If you need to lose weight, you are not alone.
More than a third of Americans are overweight — and another third is obese.
Only 30% of people are at a healthy weight.
The problem is, conventional weight loss methods are so complicated that an estimated 85% of people do not succeed.
However, many products are advertised to aid weight loss. Certain herbs shake, and pills are supposed to help you burn fat or reduce your appetite.
Among the most widespread is a supplement called raspberry ketones.
Maybe you’ve heard the claim that raspberry ketone supplements can dissolve away fat and prevent weight gain — even if your diet is high in fat. But what are they, and can they do that?
Raspberry ketones are claimed to produce fat within cells to be broken down more effectively, helping your body burn fat faster.
They are also claimed to improve levels of adiponectin, a hormone that helps to control metabolism.
Raspberry ketone supplements have gained popularity in the health food scene as a weight loss aid. That is despite the lack of scientific evidence available to support this use.
This article examines the research behind raspberry ketones.
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What are Raspberry Ketones?
Raspberry ketone is a substance from red raspberries, grapes, apples, and other berries. You can also get this substance from vegetables like rhubarb, and the bark of yew, maple, and pine trees.
Raspberry ketone is a natural substance that gives red raspberries their intense aroma.
People use raspberry ketone to the skin for hair loss. It has a long account of cosmetics use and has been added to soft drinks, ice cream, and other processed foods as a flavoring.
Most people already consume small amounts of raspberry ketones — either from fruit or as a flavoring.
Only recently did they become famous as a weight-loss supplement.
Even though the word “raspberry” may interest people, the supplement is not derived from raspberries.
Extracting raspberry ketones from raspberries is costly because you need 90 pounds (41 kg) of raspberries to get a single dose. 2.2 pounds (1 kg) of whole raspberries only holds 1–4 mg of raspberry ketones. That’s 0.0001–0.0004% of the total weight.
People take raspberry ketone by mouth for obesity. It became well-known after The Dr. Oz Show featured it in February 2012. But there is no sound scientific proof to support its use as a fat burner.
The raspberry ketones you find in supplements are synthetically produced and are not natural.
This product’s appeal is also due to the word “ketone,” which is associated with low-carb diets. However, raspberry ketones have nothing to do with low-carb diets and will not have the same effects on your body.
Experts say that investing in a bottle of raspberry ketone supplements amounts to a few more than wishful thinking. And it may or may not be harmful.
How Does it Work?
Raspberry ketone is a chemical from red raspberries that is thought to aid with obesity.
Some research shows that raspberry ketone can do the following:
- Increase in metabolism
- Increase the body’s fat burn rate
- Reduce appetite.
But there is no conclusive scientific evidence that raspberry ketone improves weight loss in humans.
The molecular structure of ketones is similar to capsaicin (found in chili pepper) and the stimulant synephrine.
Studies indicate that these molecules can boost metabolism. Therefore, researchers considered that raspberry ketones could have the same effect.
In test-tube research of fat cells in mice, raspberry ketones enhance fat breakdowns. This is mainly due to making the cells more susceptible to the fat-burning hormone norepinephrine.
Adiponectin is released by fat cells and may play a role in regulating metabolism and blood sugar levels. People with normal body weight have more adiponectin than those who are overweight.
Studies show that people with low adiponectin levels are at a higher risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, fatty liver disease, and heart disease.
Therefore, it seems that raising adiponectin levels could help people lose weight and lower the risk of many diseases.
But while raspberry ketones increase adiponectin in isolated fat cells, this does not mean it has the same effect in a living organism.
In one small study, people who took 200 milligrams of raspberry ketones merged with 1,200 mg of vitamin C daily for four weeks lost weight and body fat. But the study did not follow acceptable scientific methods.
It doesn’t show whether any benefit was from either the vitamin C or the raspberry ketones or the combination.
Until more is identified, experts say you’re better off holding onto your money. Instead, stick to a healthy, balanced diet and regular exercise. Both of those are effective ways to manage weight.
Keep in mind that there are natural ways to increase adiponectin that do not include raspberry ketones.
For example, exercise can improve adiponectin levels by 260% in as little as one week. Drinking coffee is also linked to higher levels.
Uses and Benefits of Raspberry Ketones
Companies that manufacture food supplements claim that raspberry ketones can improve health. But the research behind these health claims remains limited.
Below are some potential uses and the benefits of raspberry ketones:
Obesity and Weight Loss
A popular health claim is that raspberry ketones can create weight loss.
However, the scientific evidence supporting this claim is weak. The most effective way to lose weight is to consume fewer calories than the body uses and do more exercise.
Early study suggests that taking raspberry ketone plus vitamin C might decrease weight and body fat in healthy people.
On the other hand, taking a specific product with raspberry ketone reduces body weight, body fat, and waist and hip measurements. That is if you take the supplement twice daily for eight weeks.
Nonetheless, the results of taking raspberry ketone alone are not clear.
Research on rats suggests that eating large quantities of raspberry ketones may cause rats to lose weight. Raspberry ketones are structurally similar to capsaicin and synephrine, a chemical in peppers and oranges, respectively. Both capsaicin and synephrine may support fat loss.
A 2016 study that the National Processed Raspberry Council sponsored found that ketones might not be the only way raspberries can support weight loss.
The findings imply that eating a wide assortment of raspberry products, including raspberry juice, could slow weight gain in mice.
While this animal research is promising, data on animals are not always applicable to humans. No clinical tests on humans have found that raspberry ketones can cause weight loss. Scientists need to research this further.
Other research in animals undermines the idea that ketones cause weight loss. A 2017 study on mice that ate a high-fat diet found that raspberry ketones could decrease appetite. However, raspberry ketones did not directly lead to weight loss by creating the body to burn more fat.
It is important to note that raspberry ketones have nothing to do with ketosis or the ketogenic diet. In a state of ketosis, the body burns fat for energy rather than glucose.
Ketosis is a process that happens in the body, but taking raspberry ketones will not trigger ketosis or support a keto diet.
Diets that are very high in fat can cause a condition called nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. The findings of a 2012 animal study suggest that raspberry ketones may reduce the risk of this disease in rats who eat a high-fat diet.
However, as with other research on animals, it is not necessarily the case that the results apply to humans.
Patchy Hair Loss (Alopecia Areata)
Early research shows that using a raspberry ketone solution to the scalp might increase hair growth in people with patchy hair loss.
Male Pattern Baldness (Androgenic Alopecia)
Early research shows that using a raspberry ketone solution to the scalp might increase hair growth in people with male pattern baldness.
Eating raspberries may decrease chronic inflammation, which experts believe plays a role in developing numerous health issues.
By reducing inflammation, raspberries may also lower the risk of:
- Cardiovascular disease
One study found that red raspberries reduced swelling and other symptoms of arthritis in rats. But there is a need for more studies to investigate this effect.
Scientists are yet to investigate the link between inflammation and raspberry ketones in humans.
Dementia and Brain Health
Dementia is a complex brain disease that doctors still do not fully understand. Some evidence suggests that inflammation may play a role.
As raspberry ketones may reduce inflammation, they might also lower the risk of dementia.
No studies have directly assessed the role of raspberries or raspberry ketones in humans who have dementia or at risk of having it. However, scientists have found links between raspberries and Alzheimer’s disease.
Some research has looked at how ellagic acid, a phytochemical in raspberries, affects the formation of amyloid plaques.
People with Alzheimer’s typically have these plaques in their brains, and the plagues get worse as the disease progresses.
The study showed that ellagic acid might slow the development of plaques. If this is the case, eating a whole raspberry may be more beneficial than taking raspberry ketones as a supplement. However, more research is necessary to confirm this potential benefit.
There is no approved dosage for raspberry ketones. However, research generally focuses on ketones as a specific diet percentage rather than a fixed dosage.
Researchers have fed the animals’ diets containing 1–2% raspberry ketones in most animal studies.
People who want to try ketones at lower doses than supplements provide could try eating large quantities of raspberries. Fresh raspberries hold ketones in their natural state, not synthetic ketones. They are also generally safe, though eating large amounts of any fruit can cause diarrhea in some people.
The suitable dose of raspberry ketone depends on several factors, such as the user’s age, health, and several other conditions. At this time, there is not enough scientific data to determine an appropriate range of doses for raspberry ketone.
Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe, and dosages can be significant.
Be sure to follow the directions stated on the product labels. You should also consult a pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.
There is no clinical data on potential drug interactions with raspberry ketones.
Researchers are yet to research to know how raspberry ketones might interact with other drugs. Therefore, people taking other medications should not take ketones, as this could be unsafe.
Raspberry ketone supplements show promise in studies on mice and rats.
However, the results weren’t nearly as impressive as the supplement manufacturers would have you believe.
In one research, raspberry ketones were given to some mice fed a fattening diet.
The mice in the raspberry ketone group weighed 50 grams at the end of the research, while the mice that didn’t get ketones weighed 55 grams — a 10% difference.
Note that the mice fed ketones did not lose weight — they just gained less than others.
In another study in 40 rats, raspberry ketones improved adiponectin levels and prevented fatty liver disease. However, the study used excessive dosages.
You would have to take 100 times the recommended amount to reach the equivalent dose. A dosage this severe is never advisable.
Raspberry ketones in food and cosmetics are widely considered safe. But no one knows what short- or long-term impact raspberry ketone supplements could have on your overall health.
The fact that raspberry ketones chemically match other stimulants suggests the potential for specific side effects. Without scientific proof, no one can say what dosage of raspberry ketone supplements, if any, might be safe to take.
No research was done to document potential side effects. There are also no studies that look at possible drug or food interactions.
There isn’t enough reliable information to know if raspberry ketone is safe.
There are some concerns about its safety because it is chemically linked to a stimulant called synephrine. Therefore, raspberry ketone might induce jitters and increase blood pressure and heart rate.
In one report, someone who took raspberry ketone reported feelings of being shaky and having palpitations.
Raspberry ketone might affect blood sugar levels, too. In theory, raspberry ketone might make it more challenging to control blood sugar in people taking diabetes medicines.
Because raspberry ketones haven’t been studied in humans, possible side effects are unknown.
However, as a food additive, raspberry ketones are classified as “Generally Recognized as Safe” (GRAS) by the FDA.
Of all weight loss supplements, raspberry ketones may be the least assuring.
There is no proof that raspberry ketones can aid weight loss. Hence, there’s no reason to believe that they work better than traditional weight-loss strategies.
Although the existing body of research on the other health benefits of ketones is hopeful, researchers must conduct more trials to confirm these compounds’ effects on the body.
While they seem to work in test animals fed extreme doses, this has no relevance to the doses usually recommended in humans.
Focus on other weight-loss tactics instead if you’re trying to lose weight. One example is to cut down on consuming carbs. Lasting, beneficial changes in your lifestyle are much more likely to affect your weight than raspberry ketones.
People who hope to get the benefits of raspberry ketones without the risk should consider eating more raspberries. Those who want to try ketones in supplement form should consult a doctor or dietitian first.
- Raspberry Ketones
- What to know about raspberry ketones
- Obesity and Overweight
- Long‐term efficacy of dietary treatment of obesity: a systematic review of studies published between 1931 and 1999
- Acute and short-term toxicity of p-hydroxy benzyl acetone in rats
- Microbial production of natural raspberry ketone
- Alterations of autonomic nervous activity and energy metabolism by capsaicin ingestion during aerobic exercise in healthy men