The Truth About Sensa

Can 'The Sprinkle Diet' really help you lose weight?

By Kathleen M. Zelman, MPH, RD, LD
WebMD Expert Column

You eat your favorite foods without counting calories, deprivation, or cravings. All you do is sprinkle everything you eat with flavor-enhancing Sensa crystals, and you'll lose weight, say advertisements promoting Sensa.

Alan Hirsch, MD, founder and neurologic director of the Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago, developed Sensa crystals or "tastants" that promote feelings of fullness and, ultimately, weight loss. If you stick with Sensa, you could lose 30 pounds in six months, according to the company web site.

What Is the Sensa Diet?

While it's sometimes called "The Sprinkle Diet," the Sensa weight loss method is not a diet per se.

Sensa sprinkles are food flakes made from maltodextrin, tricalcium phosphate, silica, and flavors. You sprinkle them on food as you would salt or sugar, and they enhance scent while adding either a mildly salty or sweet taste. Savory flavors include cheddar cheese, onion, horseradish, ranch dressing, taco, and Parmesan cheese. Sweet flavors are cocoa, spearmint, banana strawberry, raspberry, and malt.

All the tastants are calorie-free, sugar-free, and sodium-free.

Sensa is intended to work with your sense of smell, fooling your brain and stomach into thinking you're full, Hirsch says. He uses the term "sensory-specific satiety" to describe the process by which smell receptors send messages of fullness to your brain.