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What Evidence Supports Fat Burning Raspberry Ketone Claims?

Tim Boyer's picture
Raspberry weight loss claim

Recent interest in claims that a raspberry ketone supplement has potent fat burning properties has doubters asking "Where’s the research?" and believers saying "here are the results!" which begs the question—should dieters wait for conclusive scientific evidence that a fat burning supplement actually does work before trying it out?

A recent episode of a popular TV health program touts the benefit of weight loss via a fat burning raspberry ketone supplement that is recommended by a celebrity dietician.

The result of the program’s topic is that it has led to two camps of thought. One camp takes the position that the supporting scientific research is limited to a single study involving rodents and therefore is likely not applicable toward human weight loss. The other camp takes the position that since it is recommended by a popular celebrity doctor and its effects are demonstrated by individuals who have taken the supplement and lost weight that the raspberry ketone supplement must work.

So, who’s right? In this case both are.

Interest in raspberry ketone supplements originate from a 1995 study published in the journal Life Sciences where Japanese researchers reported their findings that mice on a high fat diet supplemented with a raspberry ketone supplement were protected from obesity.

Raspberry ketones are aromatic compounds of the red raspberry that are commonly used as flavor and scent additives. What stimulated anti-obesity related research with raspberry ketones is due to their similarity to the capsaicin found in chili pepper plants, which is also believed to possess anti-obesity and lipid metabolizing properties.

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The researchers of the study determined that raspberry ketones provided protection from obesity in mice by significantly increasing norepinephrine-induced lipolysis associated with the translocation of hormone-sensitive lipase from the cytosol to lipid droplets in white fat cells. In other words, raspberry ketones induce cells to burn stored fat.

On the Dr. Oz show, weight loss expert and dietician Lisa Lynn illustrates the benefits of raspberry ketones by showing before and after images of patients of hers that have lost significant amounts of weight that they attribute to adding raspberry ketone supplements to their diet and weight loss plans. However, even if the images are true, they are a far cry from rigorous research that can quantitatively support or discount the fat burning effects of raspberry ketones on the body.

The point to all of this is that the argument can be made that in some cases, knowing the exact scientific truth of whether a supplement does or does not burn fat may be irrelevant.

One of the primary tenets of medicine is to first do no harm. And as many doctors will attest, part of the art of medicine is knowing how to meet the needs of particular patients who may benefit from non-science backed guidance—as long as it causes no harm. According to the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) raspberry ketones qualify as a substance under GRAS (generally recognized as safe) status for human consumption. Furthermore, there are several studies that show value in health with the placebo effect—which may be the real reason in the before and after success stories.

Aside from a counter argument that dieters who buy these products in hopes of losing weight are being duped by the supplement industry, as long as the buyer is sufficiently mentally capable of understanding that the caveat buyer beware applies, then where’s the harm? Can we not see more redeeming character in someone who at least attempts to lose weight over someone who does not try?

It is just as easy to dismiss something as hokum as it is to believe that something is true—it’s human nature. And if there’s one thing we know about dieting and weight loss that is true is that what works for one person, may not work for another. Claims of the fat burning properties of burning raspberry ketones may not have sufficient supporting scientific evidence, but what they do have is the drive of people who want to improve their health.

Image Source: Courtesy of Wikipedia

Reference: Morimoto C, Satoh Y, Hara M, Inoue S, Tsujita T, & Okuda H. (2005). Anti-obese action of raspberry ketone. Life Sciences. 77(2), 194-204.



I guess the harm is if people have underlying conditions that they may not know about (or choose to ignore), such as high blood pressure or low thyroid. The raspberry ketones are contraindicated for such conditions, and "caveat emptor" is only as good as how well the buyer does his or her research. Also - I think you meant "primary tenets of medicine," not "tenants."
"here is the results!" Really?
Wow, yeah, you're right--a contraction of "here's the results" or "here are the results" would be correct. That's what happens when you have to write very fast and your self editing gets foggy. Thanks for the catch.
Sadly, now it is a common mistake. It comes from using the contractions "there's", "here's" instead of saying "there are" and "here are." I feel sorry for those learning English as a second language because they are going to hear incorrect grammar more often than not. That has to make it more difficult.
And it occurs in other languages as well, which makes it difficult to choose between going grammatically formal or colloquially informal as in everyday speech, There's always some conflict when quoting a source's speech and "fixing" the quote. When I was a Russian Language major, my Polish roommate used to laugh at my Russian and say, "Man, no one talks like that anymore in Russia--what century are you from?"
just call it ebonics and you don't have to worry about proper grammer. Duh....
Yes, the thyroid mention in other articles has been made, but without a reference that shows this is true (even though it makes sense), but dosage may be the real issue if it does affect the thyroid adversely. Doh! "Tenants"! Must have been a rough day for me--thanks for the catch.
Even with the study on rodents, there are issues. First, the study showed no fat loss, only a prevention of fat gain. While some might think the logical conclusion is that the same supplement would cause fat loss in a calorically depleted state, there is no actual proof. Second, and more important, is the amount of Raspberry ketone given to the rodents in the study. The rats received 2% of bodyweight, or 10,000mg per Kg bodyweight per day. Massive doesn't even begin to describe that dose. For humans, think 75-110 one thousand Mg capsules per day to match the dose given in the studies. Once again, the biggest thing learned from that show is this- Science will never trump exciting programming in the land of Oz.
Well, "science" doesn't have all the answers, that is for sure. And many so-called "studies" are funded by biased organizations. Much of Dr. Oz's work is scientifically-based in any case although I don't agree with him on everything. The funny thing is, a lot of what many people call "wooo-woo" medicine and therapy, such as some energy medicine, is actually very scientifically-based. I am a nutritionist and the "science" is constantly changing because of new discoveries. Anyway, it's all very interesting.
I have been using raspberry keytones and oxy-powder for five days now. I have lost 10 pounds.
You're lying.
It could have been water weight. If this person took these pill and caused cottonmouth they could have been drinking lots of water and lost 10 lbs of water weight, but in the next week they would probably gain about half of them back. [water weight has happened to me] I haven't tried these pills so I don't know if they cause cottonmouth or not, just an idea I had.
I love how someone experiencing results has to be lying. Lol. Basically, they are saying, unless your results are done in a lab, under watch, they're not really results.
I saw that particular Dr. Oz show, and had been struggling with losing 5 lbs. for a while. I am a vegan, eat low fat, lots of vegetables, and fruits. I thought, "What the heck?" I lost the 5 lbs. in 1 month without changing my diet. It appears to have worked for me. I hope it works for others.
First of all, Lisa Lynn is NOT a dietitian or a weight loss expert! To be a dietitian you must go to school and get a bachelors of science in nutrition and dietetics, at the very least - she does not have this. She is also NOT a weight loss expert, she is simply a personal trainer certified by ISSA (which anyone can do). She also SELLS supplements (has her own line called Lyn Fit) so she obviously wants to promote raspberry ketones even though there is no evidence to support weight loss or fat cell shrinkage. There have only been 2 very small mouse studies done on raspberry ketones and weight reduction - nothing on humans. Not to mention the fact that you would have to take huge doses in order to gain the effects shown in the tiny 6 mouse study. There have not been any harmful effects by raspberry ketone, so it's okay to take but it's probably not going to do anything other than make you believe you are going to loose more weight, which will actually help you. You're better off just eating raspberries for their health benefits.
I once heard you can't eat fruit & lose weight.. is that no longer true ? It amazes me how something new comes along every few years & they come up with the cutest names think it's some awesome magic. Nutrition is a billion dollar business & they will come up with all kind of things to bring in the buyers sold on hype & people actually believe this stuff. Thats right, people buy this stuff & believe it's for real. In a business thats full of hype, calls for more hype to replace the old hype. Are we there yet ? As the saying goes, you are what you believe. Why in the word would I want a raspberry product when I can go pick up some raspberry's at the store ? The truth be told.. if you want to lose weight, improve your health & how you convert food to energy there is only one way to solve the problem. What is it ? eat naturally of course, eat your fruits, grains, nuts, good fats, lean means. If you are fat, obese.. it is you & your habits that has put you in the position to solve a problem that appears to be a lost cause. Let me repeat that " It is you & you alone " For every action, every thought there is a reaction. That is you have experiences, your bran has absorbed & your body has responded. If you start to gain weight & you sit there & think eating a cheesecake is gonna put on a pound then you know what Kim, Sally, Lisa, ect.. your brain will create that reality is some fashion. A thought rather you know it or not starts as energy, it takes energy to produce a thought. When you dwell on something, such is repeated in cycles where it builds up more energy & eventually you act when enough mental energy us built up. Think of it as KARMA, you think something, there shall be a response.. that is KARMA. Think positive & the response is positive while think negative & the response is negative. If you get a cold, your going " oh brother, looks like I'm getting sick " well yes! if you think it, your brain shall create something in response in relation to the vibes you possess. Imagine what would happen if you prepared a healthy meal & imagined how this food provides health & wellness to the cells in your body & each time you take a bite.. you imagine yourself healthy, thin, smiling, joyful walking on a rainbow & with every bite you add to the vision. If you simply put in your mind the positive thinking, your brain shall create a positive response & your cells in the body shall respond positive. Do yourself a favor & start respecting the life you live & the lives of others, stop being selfish.. it's this selfish which has trapped you in your world & at every turn you end up back at the same place. It does not have to be that you. If you believe you are born to be fat, you have a serious problem & must change how you think.. this is the only way to get a positive response the cells in the body in relation to the positive energy of thought. People go to church in faith & believe it is the only place to receive a blessing.. well thinking like that isn't doing you any favors.. Change how you think & you change your world. What you need to right now is get into some serious meditation & get control over your thoughts... till you do, your body shall respond as it always has & any results shall be as they always have been. Today is the first day of your live, will the second day be like today or are you gonna do something it & change for better of all human beings ? Imagine how wonderful it would be to share happiness with others expecting nothing in return ? can you imagine ? can you ? good for you.. GOD BLESS.