Raspberry ketone, one of the compounds that give raspberries their scent, has come into the spotlight in recent years after being touted as a miracle weight loss supplement by celebrity doctors.
But can this natural compound really help you lose weight?
Evidence Lacking: Raspberry Ketone and Weight Loss
In a 2005 study published in the journal Life Sciences, researchers discovered that mice that were fed high-fat diets didn’t gain weight in the liver after consuming raspberry ketone. Consuming this compound also prevented belly-fat gain around the organs.
A 2010 study published in the journal Planta Medica supported the 2005 results; researchers discovered that raspberry ketone elevated the breakdown of fat molecules in the rat subjects.
Many useful discoveries come from animal trials…but so do many unproven fads. The promotion of ketone use in humans is based solely on over-extrapolating from these animal trials. Unfortunately, the major downside is that there is no evidence the effects the mice experienced are translatable to humans.
Even if there wasn’t a 15% difference in the DNA makeup between humans and mice, there are numerous obstacles to consider the results translatable without human studies.
For example, the animals were fed controlled diets and lived in cages—meaning they weren’t exposed to the same dietary or living conditions as humans. Furthermore, gaining weight and losing weight are not entirely the same mechanism. The animals studied may not have become overweight, but no study has been done on how ketone use would affect already heavy mice or rats.
To the scientists’ credit, their results are interesting and definitely promising. However, while animal studies can sometimes translate into similarly effective results for humans, this isn’t always the case. It is, at best, simply too early to tell. Until substantial human trials are conducted, the Department of Defense Human Performance Resource Center has deemed the link between weight loss and raspberry ketone as insufficient.
The promoters of raspberry ketone are acutely aware of this. A common fine print on many bottles reads as follows: “This information has not been evaluated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, nor has it gone through the rigorous double-blind studies required before a particular product can be deemed truly beneficial or potentially dangerous and prescribed in the treatment of any condition or disease.”
It is a less-than-ringing endorsement!
Are Raspberry Ketone Supplements Safe?
In the 1960s, raspberry ketones were deemed safe by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), but this was under the assumption that those who consume it are only taking two milligrams per day. The animals in the above-mentioned studies—the ones the entire ketone fad is based on—received such high dosages of ketone that in some cases, the amounts were up to two percent of their weight.
The equivalent dose in humans would be far, far greater than the assumed two milligrams. In fact, commercially available raspberry ketone supplements provide daily doses within the 50–250-milligram range.
Common side effects from taking raspberry ketones include:
- A rapid decrease in blood sugar
- Changes in body fat and weight
- Changes in inflammation
The number of changes that can occur does not scream “take me!” The last thing you should want is to try and change one thing about your body only to find out that there are several other things that will change along with it.
Weight Loss Alternatives
Is it possible raspberry ketone can be an effective weight loss method? The whole problem with them is that the current state of evidence either says “no” or “no way to tell”—and that none of the people advocating ketone use have actually performed the necessary tests to back up their claims.
What we do know is that raspberry ketones won’t necessarily stimulate the same fat breakdown process in humans as they do in animals, and taking enough to potentially do so opens you up to unpleasant and potentially dangerous side effects. If you want to burn fat and lose weight, why not do it the natural way?
Instead of looking for a quick “weight loss” fix with raspberry ketone supplements, try following a healthy exercise and diet plan—it is the most effective way to lose weight and stay healthy. There’s plenty of proof to back that up.
Sources for Today’s Article:
Cox, L., “What is Raspberry Ketone?” Live Science web site, September 26, 2013; http://www.livescience.com/39972-raspberry-ketone-supplement-facts.html.
Hand, B., “What They Don’t Want You to Know about Raspberry Ketone,” Huffington Post web site, January 28, 2013; http://www.huffingtonpost.com/becky-hand/raspberry-ketones_b_2727943.html?ir=India&adsSiteOverride=in.
“Is it worth it? Raspberry ketone,” The Guardian web site; http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/nov/29/raspberry-ketone-review, last accessed May 26, 2015.
Kilham, C., “Raspberry ketone: Be wary of this diet trend,” February 18, 2013, Fox News web site; http://www.foxnews.com/health/2013/02/18/raspberry-ketone-be-wary-this-diet-trend/.