Dear Dr. Oz,
You have made some ridiculous statements regarding nutrition in the past, claiming that 4 tsp of vinegar/day could prevent or reverse diabetes, and promoting a “miracle supplement” called garcinia cambogia, but your information touting the use of a supplement called raspberry ketones as a “miracle fat burner in a bottle” takes the proverbial cake.
I have much to do these days, Mehmet. I am working with thousands of people who have metabolic syndrome, prediabetes, type 2 diabetes; people who are honestly struggling with weight loss and the co-morbidities caused by excess weight. It seems like every few days I have to stop valid work to set the record straight on some outlandish pronouncement you’ve made. So please, let this be the last time I have to correct any damage you have done by passing along false information. You are in the national spotlight and people want to trust what you say. Please stop the use of sensationalism as you make statements that are not proven, factual, or that may prove harmful.
And so….my response to Dr. Oz’s raspberry ketone “miracle fat burner in a bottle.”
We’ll start with a factual, understandable and scientific explanation of ketones.
Ketones are organic molecules that are produced when the body breaks down its own fat for energy. Ketones are an end-product of fat tissue burn. The level of ketones in the blood increases when there is not enough insulin present to allow glucose to enter the cells for energy. If a person is on a low carb diet taking in a minimal amount of carbohydrate and has used up liver and muscle sugar stores, the resultant low insulin levels in the blood will prompt the body to begin to break down its own fat. If a low carb dieter tested his your urine for ketones…and they are present…he would know that he is in a fat burning mode. ( Excess ketones in the blood exit the body in the urine). Ketones are acidic in nature and change the pH of the blood to become more acidic. It is recommended that a dieter in a fat burning mode drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and clear the ketones out of the blood and into the urine.
Aside from being on a low carb diet, if a person is in a state of starvation or on a very low calorie diet, his body will break down fat (and muscle) for energy. Long periods of physical activity can also cause the formation of ketones as the body moves to fat burning for energy. In addition, prolonged and intense stress can also trigger excess production of ketones. During prolonged stress, stress hormones rise and trigger the production of ketones as fat breaks down to create energy for a prolonged anticipated “fight or flight.”
If dangerously excessive amounts of ketones are present, it is indicative that the body might not be producing the hormone insulin. Insulin is a fat gain hormone and the total absence of insulin will cause rapid fat burning. This occurs at the onset of type 1 diabetes…you’ve probably heard stories of people who lost a large amount of weight without dieting right before they were diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. In the same regard, if a person diagnosed with type 1 diabetes fails to take insulin or takes inadequate insulin for his/her blood sugar, ketones and blood sugar will quickly rise to very dangerous levels. When dangerous levels of ketones are present in the blood, the blood becomes very acidic and a potentially harmful or even fatal condition called ketoacidosis occurs
The treatment for someone with type 1 diabetes experiencing very high levels of ketones is to inject insulin that will immediately lower blood sugar and stop further fat burning (ketone formation).
Ketoacidosis and ketosis are not the same thing! When a person is in a fat burning mode (following a low carb diet) they are experiencing ketosis; not ketoacidosis
So….now that you understand what ketones are…and they ARE the end product of breaking down your own fat tissue…..does a supplement of raspberry ketones make any sense?
First of all, ketones are not really found in food, they are the by- product of fat burning in the body prompted by low or absent insulin, prolonged physical activity, or stress reaction.
How can a supplement called raspberry ketones possibly be a “miracle fat burner?” It turns out that a substance in raspberries that gives them their unique fragrance and contributes to their flavor is called “raspberry ketones.” Raspberry ketones have been used for over 90 years in the perfume and food industry to impart fragrance and flavor to soft drinks, ice creams, sweets, and perfumes.
The wacky diet craze involving raspberry ketones is playing on the idea that people have heard that ketones are present when they are burning fat, so it “must be the addition of ketones TO the blood that will speed fat loss”. Reality? Ketones are present in the blood from FAT YOU HAVE ALREADY BURNED.
Marketers of raspberry ketone rely on the rapid repetition of quack-science to create the impression that using this agent for weight loss is valid. And when it is recommended as a “miracle pill for weight loss” by “American’s Doctor”…people are even more apt to believe the pseudo-science.
Most people are not versed in human biochemistry and the “miracle label” given to this product sounds impressive. In the meantime, many people are making millions of dollars pushing this unproven supplement.
Not even one human study has demonstrated any weight loss at all as a result of consuming raspberry ketones. It has never been scientifically studied in humans to determine if it can cause side effects.
Raspberry ketones are related to a stimulant called synephrine. It is possible that raspberry ketones may make a person feel anxious, jumpy, get a rapid heartbeat (heart palpitations), feel shaky, and experience increased blood pressure.
I don’t think I need to go much further with explaining the ridiculousness of this gimmick except that… here is what Dr. Sarah G. Khan (PharmD) says about the possible safety issues that can arise from this supplement.
“I would not recommend this product to diabetics without speaking to their doctor because of the risk of blood sugar fluctuations,” she says. “People who have heart issues or high blood pressure would also not be good candidates for raspberry ketones because norepinephrine can have effects on blood pressure and heart rate. This may also have an effect on people who have COPD or asthma conditions and may make their conditions worse.”
Dr. Khan also notes that there’s not much data around what happens to people after they stop taking the supplements, or how long it’s safe to take them.
So there you have it. Mehmet Oz….please give me a break. It is very time consuming to have to set the record straight on statements and pronouncements that are not medically sound, proven, and can be potentially dangerous to the health and well-being of people who put their trust in you. Sensationalism may enhance your viewership but at what price? Not only are you potentially damaging people’s health…but also your own credibility.