Do Raspberry Ketones Burn Fat?
Raspberry Ketones are everywhere right now.
Almost every fat burner that comes onto the market these days seems to contain raspberry ketones. Walk into any large health food or supplement store, and you’ll probably find raspberry ketone capsules on sale. Even some supermarkets are selling this stuff alongside their own-brand multivitamins.
So why have raspberry ketones become so popular all of a sudden?
Are they just that effective? Do they really accelerate fat loss?
The short answer to that is, unfortunately, no.
After reviewing all available information, including both scientific and anecdotal evidence, we can only conclude that raspberry ketones are far more hype than they are substance. The ability of raspberry ketones to enhance fat loss seems to be negligible, if it exists at all.
So how have raspberry ketones become so ubiquitous in the supplement industry? How is it that every supplement manufacturer feels the need to include them in their fat burners?
Why do so many “industry experts” think that they work?
Let’s find out.
Why Do People Think Raspberry Ketones Work?
We’ll get the most prevalent misconception about raspberry ketones out of the way first: they have nothing to do with the ketogenic diet.
Most people these days have a cursory knowledge of popular diets and exercise regimens. The ketogenic diet is so popular right now that the majority of people with even a mild interest in fitness will have heard of it. But that doesn’t mean that these people have a detailed, practical, or even accurate understanding of what the diet is and how it works.
Many people who have no real knowledge of nutrition, exercise, or supplementation will see raspberry ketones and think “keto diet”.
The “keto diet” is so called because it supposedly puts you into a state of ketosis, which is where your body runs out of glucose to use as fuel so it begins to use ketones instead.
Unlike glucose, which is what we get when we break down carbohydrates, ketones are the byproduct of fatty acid breakdown. When you are in a fasted state (the body has no glucose coming in to use for energy), your liver begins to break down fatty acid stores, releasing ketones which are then used for energy.
So basically, when in a state of ketosis, the body is using fat directly for energy, not the glucose extracted from food you have recently eaten.
Raspberry ketones are not the same sort of ketone body we are referring to here.
Raspberry ketones are naturally occurring phenolic compounds. They are not the product of fatty acid breakdown; they are not instantly usable fuel bundles like the ketone bodies mentioned above. Rather, they are the main aromatic compound of red raspberries.
That’s right, you heard us.
They are the compound which gives red raspberries their distinctive smell.
So, now that we’ve explained why some laymen think raspberry ketones help with fat loss, let’s start looking at why so-called “industry experts” believe that this stuff is a silver bullet for belly fat.
Existing Scientific Evidence – Does It Stack Up?
One reason that many industry experts, bloggers, and supplement manufacturers claim raspberry ketone helps burn fat is because it closely resembles ephedrine and synephrine in structure. It also resembles capsaicin to some degree.
Here is a comparison of the structures of these four compounds:
Ephedrine is not something you want to be putting into your body. It is an extremely potent stimulant. It is used as a medicine during spinal surgery, to treat sudden and extreme chest tightness, among other conditions. It is an immensely powerful thermogenic and inducer of lipolysis.
While this is obviously not something one would take to lose weight (as it is incredibly dangerous), people have long sought substances that are similar but less potent. This is where all the fuss about synephrine comes from.
As you probably know, we don’t think synephrine has anywhere near the potency of ephedrine as far as fat burning is concerned. In fact, we don’t think it burns fat at all. It is so much less potent than ephedrine in terms of inducing fat loss that we don’t think there’s any point using it.
But many do, so its structural similarity to raspberry ketones leads some to believe it has similar effects.
The main problem here is that these substances are indeed similar in structure to raspberry ketones. But having a similar structure doesn’t mean that two substances act the same way in the human body.
That isn’t even Bio-Chem 101; it’s middle school chemistry.
Here’s a simple comparison to prove our point here:
Just because two chemical compounds appear similar doesn’t mean they have similar properties. An extra carbon atom here, an extra bond there, and you have two totally different molecules.
That raspberry ketones resembles ephedrine in structure doesn’t mean that they share any of ephedrine’s effects when consumed by humans.
If anyone claims that two things that look similar on a structural level must be similar, ask them if they’d prefer to drink a pint of water or a pint of hydrogen peroxide.
But that isn’t the only reason people claim raspberry ketones burn fat.
By now you will quite rightly be wondering: where are all of the studies showing raspberry ketones enhancing fat loss?
As pointed out by many reputable sources, there is little in the way of scientific evidence that raspberry ketones enhance fat loss.
There is at least one widely cited study which seemingly shows that raspberry ketones have a fat burning effect. We’re talking about this study, carried out in 2005 and published in Life Sciences.
These researchers seemingly concluded quite emphatically in favor of raspberry ketones’ fat burning potential: “RK prevents and improves obesity and fatty liver. These effects appear to stem from the action of RK in altering the lipid metabolism, or more specifically, in increasing norepinephrine-induced lipolysis in white adipocytes.”
However, this study has some serious limitations.
- For starters, it was conducted on rats
While rats can give us a rough indication of how a substance will affect the human body, it can never give us a truly accurate picture. Beyond seeing whether or not something has a property at all, rat studies have limited applicability. They can’t tell us how potent a substance is to humans, how much of it we need to take to see similar effects, or whether it works in our bodies at all.
- No control group was used
As far as we can tell, all rats in this study were fed raspberry ketones. As the rats were subjected to different diets, all mice seem to have been introduced to raspberry ketones at the same point, and they all seem to have been fed raspberry ketones for the same amount of time. The quantities they were being fed varied, but there doesn’t seem to have been a control group which were not fed raspberry ketones at all.
- The rats were fed an extremely large amount of raspberry ketones
The rats in this study were divided into three groups, each fed a different amount of raspberry ketone. The group fed the least amount per day were fed a diet of which 0.5% was made up of raspberry ketones. 0.5% of their daily food consisted of raspberry ketones, and that’s the low-RK fed group! The group fed the most ate a diet of which 2% was raspberry ketones. We don’t need to tell you that reaching this level is totally impractical for humans (and potentially unsafe).
This is the only study we can find which seems to indicate that raspberry ketones have any kind of fat burning effect. Here, the effectiveness in humans has been largely inferred.
This study does not even begin to suggest that raspberry ketones, in the doses used in most fat burners, can help accelerate fat loss. How manufacturers arrive at the doses they commonly use in their fat burners is a mystery to us.
Why Do Manufacturers Use Raspberry Ketones?
By now you may be wondering: if they don’t help with fat loss, why do so many manufacturers include raspberry ketones in their fat burners?
Why are they sold as supplements at all?
That is an excellent question.
But sadly, if you are asking this question, you’re seriously underestimating how little the supplement industry actually cares about delivering good results for customers.
We believe that the main driver behind the widespread use of raspberry ketones is the fact that the perfume industry discovered a cheap way to manufacture this stuff en masse. With a lot of product coming off the production line, producers needed to find more markets, and fast.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is where supplements come in very handy.
Raspberry Ketones In The Perfume Industry
Because of their distinctive, alluring smell, raspberry ketones were first synthesized for use in perfume.
However, getting raspberry ketones from actual raspberries is an incredibly expensive, inefficient, time-consuming process.
When extracting ketones from fresh raspberries, the yield is somewhere around 0.0002%. So for every kilogram of fresh raspberries used, manufacturers could expect to get perhaps 2mg of raspberry ketones at the end.
But then something wonderful happened for the perfume industry. A much more efficient, and much cheaper, process was discovered for making raspberry ketones. Basically, instead of extracting them from actual raspberries, manufacturers could simply make them in a laboratory!
So all of a sudden, perfume manufacturers could get hold of raspberry ketones quickly, cheaply, and reliably. The motivation is then, obviously, to start using more of the stuff.
But as production becomes more efficient and costs tumble, manufacturer profits will go down unless they can find more customers.
So raspberry ketone producers found themselves in desperate need of new markets, and their salespeople sure delivered.
As they pushed their product on an ever-growing array of markets, synthetic raspberry ketones began to appear in more and more products (some of which would have seemingly no use for a lab-made raspberry odorant).
The biggest success was, as you might have guessed, the food industry, where raspberry ketones were used as flavoring (some say smell is the largest determinant of taste).
That was until raspberry ketone producers found the supplements industry.
Raspberry Ketones In Fat Burners
As mentioned above, raspberry ketone resembles synephrine and capsaicin in structure.
Since both of these substances were already being used in fat burning supplements, it seemed only natural to include raspberry ketones as well.
This is, in our opinion, the primary reason why raspberry ketones are found in so many fat burners today. Not because they are effective, but because they are cheap, readily available, and you can put up a convincing case to say that they work.
Manufacturers felt that it only made sense to include raspberry ketones in their fat loss aids since they so closely resemble synephrine, capsaicin, and even ephedrine.
“They may not work exactly the same, but they must kind of work towards the same goal, right?”
The desire to include raspberry ketones in your supplements would be made even stronger if a producer approached you with prices that would probably only ever go down (as the manufacturing process becomes more refined). Some producers may well find that they have a surplus of raspberry ketones as public taste in perfume changes, so they would be in a position to offer supplement manufacturers very attractive rates.
Conclusion – Do Raspberry Ketones Burn Fat?
The answer to this question is a resounding “no” as far as we are concerned.
Despite what you read on some of the largest fitness websites today, raspberry ketones seem to offer pretty much nothing in the way of enhanced fat loss.
We have searched for compelling evidence telling us otherwise, but it just doesn’t seem to exist.
The main reasons raspberry ketones find their way into so many fat burners these days is because they are cheap, readily available, they can be easily spun as a potent fat burning substance, and they sound vaguely diet related.
Of course, not all manufacturers are this cynical. Many will strongly believe that raspberry ketones enhance fat loss.
This is almost certainly the case with many small-scale manufacturers, as the amount of hype surrounding raspberry ketones these days is staggering. So many independent blogs, fitness experts, health websites, and even some newspapers are all singing from the same hymn-sheet when it comes to the incredible fat burning power of raspberry ketones.
But sadly, this seems to be just another ingredient that is all bark and no bite.
Will they do you any harm? Almost certainly not.
Will they help you cut fat and retain muscle mass? Not a chance.