Do Raspberry Ketones Really Work?

They may not be the diet aid people hope for


Shortly after Dr. Mehmet Oz touted the fat-melting effects of the diet supplement raspberry ketones on national television, the pills sold out. Even today, they still continue to be in high demand. But what exactly are they—and do they work?

Ketones, the reported “magic” ingredient in red raspberries, are a compound that the body produces when it can’t process glucose. The human body naturally burns glucose as a source of fuel and usually only switches to burning fat when it’s run out of glucose. In that scenario, the body breaks fat down into ketones, which are then used up for energy. The idea behind ketone supplements is that, by introducing raspberry ketones into the body, they “trick” it into breaking down fat even if there is not a glucose deficiency.

So far, research on these supplements has only been done on animals. In one study, researchers found that rats that were given the highest doses of raspberry ketones experienced a reduction in fatty liver cells. An earlier study found that raspberry ketones altered fat metabolism in mice.

For now, studies on raspberry ketones are too limited to make any clinical claims. “When you’re looking at studies for supplements, you want human studies, you want multiple studies, and the more, the better,” says Alison Birks, MS, a nutritionist in Woodbury, CT.

So, what’s the best way to slim down? Good eating and exercise habits. “Supplements don’t get to the root of the problem. There’s the behavioral element to weight that’s important. It’s harder to lose weight than it is to gain it, and people have to make a change,” Birks says. Need ideas to start? Add more vegetables to your diet, and get moving with a fast workout.