In the last couple of months, several of my patients have asked me about using raspberries for weight loss. It’s true that ‘raspberry ketones’ has been a popular buzz phrase on television and the Internet as a substance that can, reportedly, actually force your fat cells to shrink and help you lose weight. Raspberries have always been considered a good addition to any weight loss program, as they are high in antioxidants, low in calories and sugar per 4 ounce serving. However, you’d have to eat about 90 lbs of them to get the concentration of raspberry ketones these products offer. After a little research on raspberry ketones, I found out why they may work so well on helping to reduce fat cells. Here’s what I tell my patients.
Fat Burning Hormones and Raspberry Ketones
We all have a fat-burning hormone in our body called adiponectin. When this hormone is working correctly, and we’re eating a healthy diet and healthy amount of food for our needs, we metabolize calories properly and don’t store them as fat reserves around our stomachs, hips and thighs. Adiponectin also enhances insulin sensitivity so we decrease blood sugar levels and use calories more completely. Adiponectin also helps to lower blood pressure, and prevent atherogenesis – hardening of arteries.
When we start overeating and not exercising enough, our adiponectin hormones become overwhelmed with the amount of calories to metabolize and become sluggish at burning them. That’s when the love handles and the belly fat and the cellulite start showing up – and that’s when my patients begin asking me how they can get rid of it fast!
Raspberry ketones are the primary “aroma” compound of raspberries – it’s what gives raspberries their distinctive smell. Research has shown that high doses of these ketones in mice on high fat diets have resulted in preventing weight gain, both subcutaneously – beneath the skin, and viscerally – around organs. It also helped prevent fatty liver from developing. The ketones apparently stimulate adiponectin release, thereby increasing insulin release, decreasing blood sugar, boosting metabolism, increasing good, brown adipose tissue that turns metabolism heat up and burns the bad, stored white fat cells. In the same research, though, there was no effect on mouse body weight at 200 times the estimated amount of human intake. To date, there is no clinical evidence that raspberry ketones have the same effect on humans.
However, stories of people losing significant amounts of weight, some up to 5 lbs a week, while using daily raspberry ketones, has been noted, and endorsed, on popular television shows as well as the internet. As I tell my patients, since there are no reported side effects with raspberry ketones, they may help you get back on track with your weight loss efforts, or help you get off a weight loss plateau.
How To Take Raspberry Ketones
Taking 200-250 mg of pure raspberry ketones (one, 100-125 mg tablet in the morning and one at night) in a formula without added ingredients like caffeine, etc, is what to look for when buying this product. Be sure that ‘raspberry ketone’ is listed first, or very near first, in the list of ingredients. You may find cheaper products, but a pure raspberry ketone product, without added ingredients may cost about $30.
Now, of course, you want to resume healthy eating habits along with using raspberry ketones and resume getting the proper amount of exercise. These supplements are not a magic bullet and you shouldn’t rely on them to counter poor eating habits. Continuing to take in more calories, sugar and fat than your body can use at meals can lead to other problems with cholesterol and insulin levels, perhaps, leading to the development of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
Other Ways to Raise Adiponectin Levels
Raspberry ketones may be effective at stimulating BAT and adiponectin quickly but here are some other methods that do the same. Combining the methods can synergize your efforts.
- Exercise. Aerobic exercise, 40 minutes a day, at least 3-4 times a week will stimulate adiponectin release. This also helps reduce inflammation in blood vessels, increases insulin sensitivity and prevents type 2 diabetes as well as heart disease.
- Diet. Higher protein diets help stimulate adiponectin, which is basically a protein-based hormone. Increasing Omega-3 fatty acids from fish or supplements and decreasing Omega-6’s help raise adiponectin, as does the Mediterranean-type diet in general. Eating more red and purple pigmented foods such as blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, pomegranates, can raise adiponectin somewhat. But as I mentioned earlier, it would take a huge amount of fruit to give the same concentrated amount present in supplement form. But, every little bit helps! Losing weight also stimulates adiponectin release.
- Drink coffee. Recent studies on Japanese males show that adiponectin levels are higher in coffee drinkers. The same effect did not hold true for green, or other teas, however. The group that drank 1-2 cups of coffee per day showed the highest amounts of adiponectin. An added bonus was that HDL (good cholesterol) levels also increased. Coffee-drinking recently has also been associated with lower type 2 diabetes risk as well.
- Other extracts. Sweet potato extract has been shown to raise adiponectin in type 2 diabetics. Berberine, an herbal supplement, raises adiponectin as well. If your health food store is out of raspberry ketones, look for sweet potato extract or berberine to fill in.
Losing fat is a tricky, and often frustrating process. However, there are natural ways to facilitate it like those mentioned above. As I mentioned earlier, there are no magic pills or cures, you have to do the work, but supplements like raspberry ketones, and others, can certainly help.
Mark Rosenberg, M.D.