I usually find its at the end of January when we start freaking out and entering diet mode. With that Raspberry Ketones are dusting themselves off. Raspberry ketones are claimed to cause the fat within cells to be broken down more effectively, which obviously helps your body burn fat faster. In addition, it is claimed that they increase the levels of adiponectin, a hormone that helps to regulate metabolism. So before we go rushing to the buy it again, let us see is it science or is it another quack?
What are Raspberry Ketones?
In simple terms, they are what gives raspberries (actually also found in cranberries and blackberries) their lovely aroma. In chemistry terms, they are phenols, a group of compounds related to alcohols. Basically, a hydroxyl group (That’s an Oxygen and Hydrogen atom bonded together), attached to a six-carbon ring, with alternating single and double bonds (also called aromatic hydrocarbons, because when first discovered these compounds had lovely smells). Commercially speaking, they are quite valuable and used in both the perfume and food industry, in everything from fragrances to ice-cream, and since you can get 1-4 milligrammes from each kilogramme of raspberries, they are sought after and expensive (Beekwilder et al. 2007). Even though in this day and age things can be synthesised (either in a lab or by getting microbes to churn out your desired product).
Ok! But um how do they work?
In short, the actual mechanism is not yet fully understood, and that is only one of the many problems with calling it a weight-loss miracle. Basically, if we don’t know the mechanism, we cannot say what the long term effects are, or if it interacts with other foods or drugs, and what dose is actually beneficial to humans. However, structurally speaking, they are similar to capsaicin and synephrine – two compounds that are known to have effects on fat (Morimoto et al. 2005), and are used in flavourings and food additives.
Oh, should we be excited?
Perhaps, basically, there is evidence to suggest that they do have effects on fats, the problem being that most studies are animal ones, and well you need human subjects to be able to say a drug or supplement works – mice just don’t cut it really. Why? well we aren’t mice, and they have cool superpowers (yes, they do, some of their cells are immortal, ever dividing, never dying, unlike our own cells, that have a built-in timer. This was discovered back in 2001 at UCL (My old Uni! Hello!), by Tang et al. 2001)
One of the most widely cited research papers is a beautifully designed experiment by a Japanese research group whose findings concluded that raspberry ketones prevent and improve obesity and fatty liver when given as a supplement to mice fed a high-fat diet (Morimoto et al. 2005). Now as mentioned earlier, animal studies are wonderful, however, they do not reflect what the drug or compound would do in humans, even if the animal models used were similar in some ways. Moreover, in this study they only used six mice, a small test population, which makes it difficult – you need repeated experiments and a study with human subjects to be able to say anything with certainty, and for long term effects, yeah, a long term study!
The Supplement Spin-Doctors
The results sound incredible, but let us really look at how the results are being spun by the supplement industry.
Morimoto’s study although beautiful in its design, and promising with its results, showed that the mice fed raspberry ketones with the fatty diet weighed 50 grams at the end of the study. In contrast, the ones not given ketones weighed 55 grams. A 10% difference, Honestly, the only time anyone should consider 10% differences is well if you are on point with everything from your snacks, to your cheat meals, to your exercise form being a study in the beauty of human movement and You are a walking showcase of the mind-muscle connection. Instead of chasing the spin of the supplements, why not check out The BioBeast Method Fat Loss Edition? My 12-week fat loss programme, tailored and designed specifically to YOU, not mice, not rats, not the general population, just YOU.
My two pennies on the subject
I love to dare and delve deep into scientific matters, especially if they are all the rage and exciting. With that being said, another study in 2012 (Wang et al. 2012), concluded that “raspberry ketone can decrease fat levels in the blood and hepatic tissue, reduce the generation of free fatty acids, and finally protect liver cells”. In this study, they used 40 rats to study fatty liver disease and the effect of raspberry ketones on them when they were fed a high-fat diet. So although this study further supports the Japanese team’s findings, it is still done on rats, no human studies have been done yet.
Ah, but come on, look at these beauties I hear you say, well okay, there was a study on humans, but it’s not going to be the best of fits in this situation. In an 8 week study, it was found that with a dedicated diet and exercise programme, a supplement containing raspberry ketone, among other ingredients, did increase the improvements seen in the subjects’ body composition, waist, hip girth and body fat (Lopez et al 2013). However, it was not raspberry ketones exclusively and well it augmented the effects of a healthy diet and exercise programme – so tentatively, we can say yes there are it seems positive effects from supplementing with raspberry ketones, but more research is needed for it to be given the scientific rubber stamp of approval.
So leave the ketones, Pick The BioBeast Method 🙂