Raspberry Ketone – The Next Big Thing or a Dud?!

Numerous products have crept up on the market claiming to reduce body fat; only a select few of these have the authentic ability to cause fat loss. A fat burner that’s been recently making waves and warrants a closer look is raspberry ketone. Derived from raspberries, raspberry ketones cause fat loss by increasing levels of adrenaline, adiponectin and hormone sensitive lipase. These fat burning abilities of raspberry ketone are backed up by sound scientific research.

Raspberry ketonesRaspberry ketone not only causes fat loss but even does so in the presence of minimal changes to your food intake. Furthermore, researchers have labelled the use of raspberry ketone as a fat burning supplement totally safe.

In addition to causing fat loss, raspberry ketone has other health benefits as well – prevents cardiovascular disease, cancer and diabetes.

As we all know, numerous products have crept up on the market claiming to reduce body fat. Most of these contain ‘natural’ products, vitamins and minerals – when taken in combination, these will improve your metabolism and help burn excess fat, the manufacturers claim. However, only a select few of these products have the authentic ability to cause fat loss. Moreover, very few are backed up by research regarding effectiveness in reducing body fat and safety.

Modern day fat-loss supplements that really work are a cocktail of different drugs – most of these ingredients are energy-producing agents (thermogens) which complement each other. More often than not, you will find caffeine, green tea extract, synephrine and others in these fat-loss supplements. Fat-burners like caffeine and green tea extract have a proven track record and are backed by solid scientific evidence. However, there are others that warrant a look. A fat burner that’s been making waves in recent years is raspberry ketone!

Although, there isn’t much human clinical data supporting fat-burning abilities of raspberry, there are numerous animal studies that categorically state that raspberry ketone does cause fat-loss, PERIOD!

However, before we look at the evidence in support of raspberry ketones, let’s have a look at what raspberry ketone is and indeed, what makes it tick.

Raspberry ketone – A Closer Look

Raspberry ketone (RK), as the name suggests, is derived from raspberries – red ones to be precise (Rubus idaeus); smaller amounts of RK are also present in cranberries and blackberries.

It is an aromatic compound (a volatile chemical with a pleasant smell) which has been traditionally used as a flavouring agent in foods and as a fragrance in the cosmetic industry.

In addition to raspberry ketones, raspberry fruits contain an impressive list of health-promoting agents – vitamins, amino acids, minerals and bioactive compounds like flavonoids. These can, as research suggests, help you fight cardiovascular disease and cancer.

How Does Raspberry Ketone Cause Fat-Loss?

Raspberry Ketones came into use as a weight-loss supplement in 1965 when the FDA approved its use as ‘an effective supplement without any adverse effects’. It has a chemical structure similar to substance known for their alleged fat-loss abilities – synephrine (occurring naturally in citrus fruits) and capsaicin (present in chilli peppers).

Researchers believe that RK causes fat loss indirectly – by increasing the secretion of adrenaline; increased levels of adrenaline, in turn, are responsible for the resultant fat loss.
Other mechanisms have also been suggested for the anti-obesity action of raspberry ketone (Morimoto et al., 2005; Park, 2010):

  1. Adrenaline-induced lipolysis
    Better known as epinephrine, adrenaline belongs to the class of chemicals secreted within our bodies known as catecholamines. The sympathetic system exerts most of its actions through secretion of these catecholamines (adrenaline is the principal one). While adrenaline exerts numerous actions in almost all tissue of the body, it also has a significant role to play in the regulation of body fat.
    Adrenaline causes stimulation of ? receptors present on fat cells; this leads to release of fatty acids into blood. These free fatty acids are then utilized by muscles as fuel for exercise. Thus, RK – by causing raised adrenaline levels – will help burn fat.Increased level of adrenaline will also cause increased basal metabolic rates – and as we all know, that means we’ll be burning more calories even when doing nothing, never mind during workouts!
  2. Increase production and secretion of adiponectin
    Adiponectin is a hormone secreted by the adipose tissue (fat tissue). It belongs to a class of substances known as adipokines secreted by fat cells.Researchers are of the opinion that obesity and resultant diseases are not a due presence of too much fat in your body alone. Malfunctioning of the adipose tissue and dysregulation of adipokines is also to be blamed. Generalized mild-grade inflammation and insulin resistance due to faulty adipokines results in metabolic diseases like hypertension (Smith & Minson, 2012).

    Some of these adipokines are proinflammatory, meaning they support inflammation. These are responsible for causing disease, especially cardiovascular (Xu, Wang, Lam, & Vanhoutte, 2010).

    Adiponectin, on the other hand, is anti-inflammatory. Researchers have noted that obesity is associated with low levels of adiponectin (Zhu, Cheng, Vanhoutte, Lam, & Xu, 2008). And that increasing levels of adiponectin – such as caused by RK – is beneficial in fighting obesity. Reduced adiponectin levels are also present in patients suffering from diabetes and hypertension (Arita et al., 1999).

    Supplements containing raspberry ketone will not only increase the synthesis but also bump up the secretion of this adiponectin (Park, 2010).

    In addition to causing fat loss, increased levels of adiponectin will offer other health benefits as well – mainly, protection from heart disease and diabetes. Thus, in addition to causing fat-loss, raspberry ketone will help you fight obesity, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

  3. Stimulation of hormone-sensitive lipase
    Lipases, as the name suggests, are a group enzyme responsible for breakdown of fat. Hormone-sensitive lipase (HSL) is present in close proximity to fat cells; stimulation of HSL – as caused by RK – releases free fatty acids into blood. These free fatty acids are carried to the muscle and liver; fatty acids carried to the muscles are utilized as fuel for producing energy during exercise (burning of fat).

RK expresses its fat burning action through the above mentioned mechanisms. These, however, are not restricted to cause fat-loss alone. Research shows that RK also has anti-oxidant properties (protection against heart disease) and improves sensitivity to insulin (helpful in diabetes) (Wang, Meng, & Zhang, 2012).

In a nutshell, RK causes breakdown of fat by altering the secretion and/or blood levels of:

  • Adrenaline,
  • Adiponectin, and
  • Hormone-sensitive lipase

And health benefits of RK can be summarized as:

  • Fat loss
  • Protection from cardiovascular disease
  • Protection from diabetes

RK also finds use in the treatment of alopecia (hair loss).

Evidence in Support of Raspberry Ketones

Animal studies have proved that RK is instrumental in preventing weight gain (Morimoto et al., 2005; Park, 2010; Wang et al., 2012) even in the presence of a high fat diet (Morimoto et al., 2005). This is mainly due to its ability to alter fat metabolism by increasing adrenaline-induced breakdown of fat (Lopez et al., 2013; Morimoto et al., 2005).

Raspberry ketones found in red raspberriesA study conducted by Lopez and his colleagues at The Center for Applied Health Sciences, Ohio found that a supplement containing raspberry ketones not only caused reduced body fat but also was well-tolerated with no adverse effects (Lopez et al., 2013). Other researchers also believe that supplementing with RK is not harmful at all (Park, 2010; Lopez et al., 2013). Furthermore, RK cause weight loss without significant reduction in calorie intake. So, no more hassles of counting calories or reducing portion size!!!

To conclude, there seems to be enough evidence to rule in favour of raspberry ketone as an efficient fat burner.

However, as suggested by Lopez and colleagues in their paper published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, fat burners work best when combined with reduced dietary calorie intake and exercise. Hitting the gym more often and eating clean while supplementing with raspberry ketones, therefore, makes more sense if you are looking to lose belly fat.

Safety Issues and Directions For Use

Raspberry ketone, as we spoke about earlier, is chemically similar to synephrine. Furthermore, it causes raised adrenaline levels and as such may have stimulant properties. Thus, RK supplementation may cause an increase in the heart rate, raised blood pressure and anxiety. However, if you stay within the dosage recommended on the bottle, there should be no cause for worry.

Having said that, it makes sense to stay off fat burners (including raspberry ketones) if you happen to be pregnant or breast-feeding your baby.

Useful References:

  • Arita, Y., Kihara, S., Ouchi, N., Takahashi, M., Maeda, K., Miyagawa, J. et al. (1999). Paradoxical decrease of an adipose-specific protein, adiponectin, in obesity. Biochem.Biophys.Res.Commun., 257, 79-83. Online Reference
  • Lopez, H. L., Ziegenfuss, T. N., Hofheins, J. E., Habowski, S. M., Arent, S. M., Weir, J. P. et al. (2013). Eight weeks of supplementation with a multi-ingredient weight loss product enhances body composition, reduces hip and waist girth, and increases energy levels in overweight men and women. J Int Soc Sports Nutr., 10, 22. Online Reference
  • Morimoto, C., Satoh, Y., Hara, M., Inoue, S., Tsujita, T., & Okuda, H. (2005). Anti-obese action of raspberry ketone. Life Sci., 77, 194-204. Online Reference
  • Park, K. S. (2010). Raspberry ketone increases both lipolysis and fatty acid oxidation in 3T3-L1 adipocytes. Planta Med, 76, 1654-1658. Online Reference
  • Smith, M. M. & Minson, C. T. (2012). Obesity and adipokines: effects on sympathetic overactivity. J Physiol, 590, 1787-1801. Online Reference
  • Wang, L., Meng, X., & Zhang, F. (2012). Raspberry ketone protects rats fed high-fat diets against nonalcoholic steatohepatitis. J Med Food, 15, 495-503. Online Reference
  • Xu, A., Wang, Y., Lam, K. S., & Vanhoutte, P. M. (2010). Vascular actions of adipokines molecular mechanisms and therapeutic implications. Adv.Pharmacol., 60, 229-255. Online Reference
  • Zhu, W., Cheng, K. K., Vanhoutte, P. M., Lam, K. S., & Xu, A. (2008). Vascular effects of adiponectin: molecular mechanisms and potential therapeutic intervention. Clin Sci.(Lond), 114, 361-374. Online Reference

Disclaimer: Our reviews and investigations are based on extensive research from the information publicly available to us and consumers at the time of first publishing the post. Information is based on our personal opinion and whilst we endeavour to ensure information is up-to-date, manufacturers do from time to time change their products and future research may disagree with our findings. If you feel any of the information is inaccurate, please contact us and we will review the information provided.

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