Proponents of Raspberry Ketones as a weight-loss aid base their claims on the compound’s ability to increase circulating levels of adiponectin, a hormone secreted from adipose tissue that plays a key role in carbohydrate and fat oxidation that also may exert anti-inflammatory, antifibrotic, and antiatherogenic effects. In humans, low circulating levels of adiponectin are linked with an unhealthy BMI, a high percentage of body fat, elevated fasting insulin concentrations, and raised plasma triglycerides.
Therefore, high levels of adiponectin have been indirectly associated with a decreased risk of obesity, insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, and cardiovascular disease. As it appears that higher levels of adiponectin offer some protective benefit, research is now exploring the specific mechanisms that prompt the body to produce it in higher quantities. But despite early evidence indicating adiponectin can be increased through weight loss, a healthful diet, and exercise in some overweight individuals, 5-7 consumers still seek a magic pill to circumvent these more difficult lifestyle changes, says Amy Goodson, MS, RD, CSSD, LD, a sports dietitian for Texas Health Ben Hogan Sports Medicine. “Most people use supplements as a quick fix when going back to the basics is the answer.”
Since Raspberry Ketone was introduced to the public in February, RDs report clients have taken great interest in the product. “Ever since The Dr. Oz Show featuring raspberry ketone aired a few months ago, I’ve received numerous inquiries from clients, wondering if this ‘miracle pill’ was really as impressive as it was portrayed to be on the show,” says Laura Acosta, MS, RD, LD/N, owner of LifeStyle Wellness, LLC.
Miranda Monroe, a student in the coordinated program in dietetics at Youngstown State University in Ohio, also has seen the popularity of RK. “As an employee at a health food store, I have to search for the Dr Oz picks for customers on a daily basis,” she says, noting that when the segment on RK aired, “We had about three boxes of an RK product that never sold, but after the show, we sold those three boxes within a day. Overall, the demand for [RK] where I work exceeded 400 orders within maybe two months. I’ve never seen that many customers order something before. … [They] would come in and believe that they knew the next big weight-loss secret.”
What the Evidence Says
With the public in a newfound frenzy about RK’s potential, RDs know that too-good-to-be-true supplement claims often fall short of their promises—and RK’s claims appear, at this time, to be no different. Currently, only a handful of studies have examined the efficacy of Raspberry Ketone, and none have been conducted in humans. Some of the earliest research investigated RK’s ability to prevent obesity, demonstrating it prevented weight gain, improved hepatic triacyglycerol, and stimulated lipolysis in adipocytes of male mice fed a high-fat diet.9 Hypothesizing that the mechanism by which Raspberry Ketone exerted these effects was through adiponectin, Korea’s Food and Drug Administration investigated further, also using male mice. Researchers administered Raspberry Ketone and monitored adiponectin and indicators of lipolysis. Data indicated that Raspberry Ketone increased secretion of adiponectin, inhibited fat accumulation, and enhanced fatty acid oxidation, leading researchers to conclude RK holds great promise as an herbal medicine.
The latest data, released over the last year, confirm previous indicators that RK may offer some protection against obesity. While these studies are promising, studies examining RK in humans currently exist and look good so far.