Have your soda and lose weight too?: A new Pepsi product in Japan claims to do just that.

by Ali Schumacher on November 14, 2012

Image courtesy of photopin.com

The message has been hammered into our brains time and time again– don’t drink soda, it’s bad for your health, it will rot your teeth, it will make you gain weight.  Well, recently PepsiCo responded to the final accusation by releasing a product that allegedly helps soda-drinkers shed pounds.  The new product is called Pepsi Special, and was released in Japan this month.  Now, no offense to Pepsi but this sounds too crazy to be true (and I’m not saying this because I prefer Coke– and no, they don’t taste the same the me).  How can a beverage proven to be detrimental to health, claim to improve it?  When it comes down to it, Pepsi Special doesn’t “block fat,” but it may “work” in other ways.

The secret ingredient involved in this intriguing elixir is dextrin. Dextrin is a soluble fiber, that has some good things going for it.

  • it’s colorless, tasteless, and odorless (which means it won’t take away from that unique Pepsi flavor)
  • it doesn’t thicken or change the texture of beverages (which means you keep that bubbly Pepsi essence)

Image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

In fact, wheat dextrin is actually a great supplement to mix into foods, sauces, baked goods, and beverages for an extra dose of fiber in one’s diet. (Talk to your doctor before taking this supplement). But how does this translate into weight loss?  Well, it may not be exactly what you think.  Drinking beverages that contain fiber do not automatically make you skinnier.  There is no magic potion that makes the pounds drop.  Rather, it all revolves around the flux of hunger and satiety. Simply put, fiber makes you feel full.  The more full you are, theoretically, the less you consume.  It’s not about burning calories, it’s about consuming fewer.

A 2010 study published in the Journal of Appetite looked at the effect of the consumption of dextrin supplemented beverages on feelings of hunger as well as actual food intake.  Over a period of 6 weeks, 26 participants took part in 6 different testing sessions. Participants were given 1 of 6 drink types 2 times prior be being served lunch. The drink options included 4 different fiber supplemented beverages (including dextrin), and 2 controls.  They used scales to report their levels of hunger, desire to eat, and fullness throughout each session.  At the end of the session, they were provided with lunch and researchers calculated the amount of food/energy consumed for each participant.

What did they find? Participants consuming beverages with the soluble dextrin fiber…

  • reported lower levels of hunger
  • reported lower desire to eat
  • reported somewhat higher levels of fullness
  • consumed less energy at lunch (i.e. ate less)

So, wheat dextrin is a proven aid in controlling hunger and possibly regulating consumption.  But that’s not the only hat dextrin wears.  With its influence on regulating the digestive system, dextrin is often sold as an over-the-counter laxative and anti-constipation supplement. So, dextrin makes you go… meaning Pepsi Special may increase that special alone time we spend on our “throne”?  Some experts say yes (min 1:31 in video).

My sentiment exactly, Pepsi.
Image courtesy of photopin.com

I’m no expert in Pepsi Special and it must be said that a lot of research and inquiry remains to be done.  How much wheat dextrin is in each serving of Pepsi Special? What are the other ingredients (I imagine at least a spoonful of sugar is involved)?  Regardless of the questions that remain, I can say this:  it is recommended that majority of fiber in your diet come from naturally fibrous sources (vegetables, fruits, etc.)  Although supplements are sometimes necessary, they are not a crutch.  Hunger and digestive regularity can be moderated naturally by your everyday diet.

So, a soda that sucks fat?  Unlikely. A soda that could make you full and… uh… do some other stuff?  More plausible.  We’ll see if the trend makes the journey over the Pacific Ocean, as of now there is no plan for Pepsi Special to be sold in US stores.


Kurt November 14, 2012 at 4:16 pm

I’m buying it.

Shara November 16, 2012 at 1:54 pm

I think the question of how much/what type is probably a pretty important thing to ask…I keep remembering back to all of the news surrounding the unpleasant ‘side effects’ from olean/olestra when that first came out….

Dennis November 20, 2012 at 7:10 pm

This is somewhat popular in Japan already. It does have a catchy nickname … Pepsi Poop

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