The Raspberry Ketone Diet is another relatively new fad diet based on a slither of science with a healthy dollop of marketing piled on top. So, what is it and how does it claim to work?
All the marketing messages online tend to start along the lines of “research has shown that raspberry ketone aids weight loss“. However, it has taken us a while to locate this research and get to the bottom of these claims!
What Is Raspberry Ketone?
Raspberry ketone is a natural phenolic compound (as shown in the picture above) found in raspberries. This compound gives the fruit its unique aroma (smell). As well as raspberries it is also found in cranberries and blackberries. It is not unique to raspberries!
It takes around 1 kg of raspberries to extract 1.5 mg of raspberry ketone. This means that there is no way raspberry ketone can be naturally harvested to supply the health industry. So instead it is made in chemical laboratories using a process that produces the compound from acetone and sodium hydroxide.
General Uses Of Raspberry Ketone
Before the weight loss claims came about raspberry ketone were used mainly in perfumes and cosmetics, as well as a food additive. It is one of the most expensive natural food additives due to its very low yield, but man-made raspberry ketone is very cheap, costing around $5 for a kilo (about $2 for 1 lb).
Weight Loss Effects of Raspberry Ketone
It is claimed that raspberry ketone aids weight loss by activating adiponectin, a protein used by the body to regulate metabolism. Raspberry ketone helps your body to break fat down quicker and more efficiently as a result. The product sold as a weight loss aid provides 100 mg a day of raspberry ketone, which is the equivalent of eating 66 kg (145 pounds) of raspberries every day. Does this sound sensible?
The Science Behind The Claims
Two main studies were carried out on rodents. The first study gave mice, which were fed a high fat diet, a daily raspberry ketone dosage equivalent of 2% of their bodyweight. It was found that these mice lost weight.
In the second study, which was on rats, there was no weight loss at all. The dosage given to the rats was 200 times higher than the dosage given to a human.
If a human was to consume 2% of their bodyweight in raspberry ketone, a 80 kg person (176 pounds) would have to consume 1.6 kg (1,600,000 mg), which is 16,000 times higher than the dosage provided in a 100 mg supplement. So even if the studies on mice and rodents proved that the compound worked at those levels, there is no evidence that it could work at significantly lower levels.
No Medical Evidence
There is currently no medical evidence that raspberry ketone works as a weight loss aid. In addition to the lack of any scientific evidence, little is known about the possible long-term side-effects of taking raspberry ketone.
Why Did It Become So Popular
Dr Oz, an American television presenter, endorsed the compound on The Dr Oz Show. Dr Oz stated on television that raspberry ketone “regulates adiponectin, a hormone that causes your body too boost metabolism“.
In addition to Dr. Oz, Oprah Winfrey and Kim Kardashian also said that they were taking it. The result was that thousands of people started buying it.
Nobody knows what effects it may really have on the human body. Nobody is losing weight solely due to taking the product.
MotleyHealth’s Opinion On The Raspberry Ketone Diet
As there is no real science to back up the claims that raspberry ketone aids weight loss, and nothing is known of the side-effects of taking the chemical compound, there seems to be no justifiable reason to take it (unless you are an overweight mouse, but even then that is debatable).
Even if raspberry ketone did aid weight loss in humans at the relatively small dosages provided in the supplements, without a change in diet and lifestyle, weight loss would still be unlikely. It seems that once again the weight loss industry has developed a new product that has not been proved to work on humans, and humans are lapping it up.
Although some celebrities believe that it has worked for them, we cannot dismiss the power of the placebo effect. You decide you wish to lose weight > you purchase a new product > you start working out harder and eating more sensibly > you lose weight. Believe in yourself, not in the product!
Remember the cost of making it? Well, by comparison, raspberry ketone pills sell for around $30 for 0.03 kg (based on prices seen on Amazon.com). One kilogram in pill form would cost you $1000.00, which is 200 times more than it costs to produce. Suddenly it becomes clear why people are selling this product.
While we cannot say that this is a total scam as future scientific research on humans may yield positive results, at the moment it seems to be nothing more than wishful thinking that a raspberry ketone supplement can melt away your fat.
There are no miracle cures and nothing burns fat quite like healthy eating and exercise.
References and Further Reading
- “Raspberry Ketone or Rheosmin or Frambinone” by Simon Cotton. University of Birmingham.
- “Anti-obese action of raspberry ketone” Morimoto C, Satoh Y, Hara M, Inoue S, Tsujita T, Okuda H. Life Sci. 2005;77(2):194-204.
- “Raspberry Ketone Increases Both Lipolysis and Fatty Acid Oxidation in 3T3-L1 Adipocytes” (pdf). K. S. Park, Planta Med., (2010), 76, 1654-1658
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