Of all the scams currently in operation, few irritate us as much as raspberry ketones. Because make no mistake about it, this widely used supplement is nothing short of a scam; a scam carried out on a massive scale and with devastating effect. People across the world are being completely ripped off by supplement manufacturers who know full that raspbery ketones will do nothing to help them achieve their goals.
They must know that raspberry ketones do nothing because the evidence is overwhelming (or rather, the lack thereof). Any manufacturer who claims ignorance, or that there is ample evidence the other way, is lying.
We don’t expect you to just take our word for it though. You obviously have some questions that need answering.
Why are we so confident that raspberry ketones are a scam?
If it is so obvious that raspberry ketones do nothing, why are they so prevalent?
How are manufacturers justifying them to consumers?
How did this scam come into being?
In this article, we’ll explain in as much detail as we can why raspberry ketones are such a serious scam. We’ll show you the evidence proving that they don’t work. We’ll talk about how this scam became prevalent. We will lay out some of the main concerns associated with this substance.
Have you been using raspberry ketones? How have they worked for you? Have you had any negative experiences with them? Please share your stories in the comments!
What Are Raspberry Ketones?
Raspberry ketones are the natural phenolic compounds that give raspberries their smell. They are not exclusive to raspberries; they are also found in cranberries, blackberries, and other berries with deep red colours. They are not the only compound responsible for generating the distinctive aroma of red berries, but they are the dominant one.
It should go without saying at this point that they have absolutely nothing to do with the “ketones” in the human body.
Nothing at all.
They are completely unrelated compounds; their only similarity is that they share a word in their name. That word has a very broad meaning in chemistry; a ketone is simply an organic compound with the structure RC(=O)R’. The fact that two compounds share a similar structure tells us absolutely nothing about their role or activity in the human body.
But that is irrelevant anyway, because raspberry ketones and human ketone bodies do not have similar structures!
Here is a representation of a raspberry ketone’s structure:
And here is what the structure of a human ketone body (acetone) looks like:
Wow, look how similar they are! They’re practically the same molecule, right?!
Sarcasm aside, it should be clear to you that the word “ketone” allows for enormous variability in the make-up and structure of compounds. It is a term with a strict definition in chemistry; a definition which only tells the chemist what kind of structure they’re dealing with.
But let’s imagine for a minute that raspberry ketones were essentially just exogenous human ketone bodies.
What kind of effect would this have?
Would this put you into a “ketogenic state” as the supplement manufacturers claim?
No! Of course not!
Keto Supplement Madness
We’ll revisit this topic in a later article, but we think it’s worth going over this quickly here.
Most people don’t understand how ketosis works or what it is, least of all its biggest proponents. Supplement manufacturers don’t seem to understand the biology behind ketosis at all either; or they do know but they know you don’t!
Ketosis is a metabolic state in which you start to use ketone bodies for fuel, instead of glucose. Ketone bodies are formed from the breakdown of fatty acids. So really, it is a metabolic state in which your body starts to breakdown fatty acids for fuel. In a way it can be thought of as the metabolic opposite of glycolysis.
In order to enter this state, you need to completely exhaust your glucose supplies. Both blood glucose and insulin levels need to be extremely low for a prolonged period.
Ketosis isn’t a switch that flicks 100% on or 100% off. Instead it is a sliding scale. After the body has been in an extremely low glucose state for 3 days (from fasting), the brain still only gets about 25% of its energy from ketone bodies (ref). After 4 days, however, it is over 70%. The brain always needs some glucose to function; it cannot survive on ketone bodies alone (ref).
Even when blood glucose is extremely low – and has been for some time – there is usually plenty of stored fuel in the form of fatty acids and stored glucose for your cells to thrive on.
Now, something should be very clear.
Consuming fatty acids or ketone bodies directly will not put you into a ketogenic state if you still have glucose or insulin in your blood.
If you have glucose in your blood, then consuming exogenous ketones is just pointless.
But that is assuming that raspberry ketones are practically exogenous human ketones, which they aren’t.
Do Raspberry Ketones Work? – The Studies
The big issue is that very few studies on raspberry ketones have ever been published.
There is one study which comes up time and again. Manufacturers use this study to justify the use of raspberry ketones in their supplements. We’re talking about a paper published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition in 2013 (ref).
This paper took a stack of substances thought to accelerate fat loss and measured how supplementation affected body composition over the course of eight weeks. The stack was found to be effective at promoting fat loss. However, the stack contained 8 substances, and they were all used simultaneously. It is impossible to tell which substances actually contributed to the extra fat loss, and which did nothing.
As such, we think this is a pretty much worthless study – it tells us nothing concrete about raspberry ketones and their ability to promote fat loss. It merely tells us that any one of 8 substances seems to cause greater fat loss than placebo (as the stack contained caffeine, we think we know what did the heavy lifting).
The only other studies done on raspberry ketones – such as this often cited trial – have been conducted on small groups of rats for short periods of time.
Rats are not humans. Short periods of time with poor controls and small study samples tell us very little about the effects of a dietary supplement, even when the test subjects are human.
There is a total lack of research on raspberry ketones’ effects on fat loss.
Anyone using these paltry studies to draw hard conclusions about the efficacy of raspberry ketone supplementation is either ignorant or purposefully misleading you.
In our opinion, a continued lack of evidence that a relationship exists is strong evidence against that relationship existing. This is especially true when so many people have vested interests in proving that a substance works in a certain way.
Raspberry ketones are a scam. Simple as that.
So Where Did They Come From?
By now you’re probably wondering how a substance with no real scientific backing wound up in very other fat burner on the market.
The answer, unfortunately, is incredibly depressing.
Raspberry ketones have long been used by the perfume industry. As we explained above, they give raspberries their smell. Adding them to perfume gives the fragrance a fruity, citrus-like smell.
Previously, raspberry ketones were obtained from raspberries. It was labour-intensive and expensive. Then we figured out how to produce raspberry ketones synthetically, and the price plummeted. Soon, a huge backlog built up. Buyers may also have begun using the stuff less; we don’t know. Eventually, manufacturers began looking for a new market for their product, and the supplement industry was the perfect candidate.
That is why raspberry ketones are in so many supplements now; it is easy to sell something called “ketone” to people interested in losing weight, and it’s incredibly cheap to purchase in large quantities.