Red raspberry ketone and green coffee bean extract have been praised by Dr. Oz, among others, for their weight loss superpowers. Learn the truth here.
According to the World Health Organization, by the year 2015, there will be 2.3 billion overweight people around the globe. That makes it all the more enticing, and important, to think about an easy, natural way to lose weight. Two plant extracts — green coffee bean extract and red raspberry ketone, a compound found in the berries — have become prime subjects of such wishful thinking.
When Dr. Mehmet Oz told his TV audience that red raspberry ketone was a weight-loss miracle in a bottle, his followers descended on health-food stores, emptying the shelves of the $12-to-$20-a-jar capsules. He also promoted green coffee bean extract, another over-the-counter weight-loss product, and inspired a similar response.
Both products are “nutraceuticals,” or dietary supplements made from concentrated food components. The global market for them is estimated to be more than $350 billion.
“A nutraceutical is any substance that is naturally occurring and is taken as a diet supplement rather than as a drug,” says Mysore V. Nagendran, MD, research director of MVJ Medical College and Research Hospital in Bangalore, India. No diet supplements, including nutraceuticals, are approved or regulated by the FDA.
Here’s what’s known about two of the most popular nutraceutricals out there: green coffee bean extract and red raspberry ketone.
Is Green Coffee Bean Extract Effective?
Unlike many dietary supplements, green coffee bean extract actually has some research to back it up. Dr. Nagendran and his colleagues recently did a small but controlled study that compared green coffee bean extract with a placebo for weight loss, and found significant reductions in body weight and body fat during the periods when the participants took the extracts compared with the periods when they took the placebo. Researchers then concluded in the online journal Diabetes, Metabolic Syndrome, and Obesity: Targets and Therapythat green coffee bean extract could be an inexpensive and effective weight-loss nutraceutical.
“We do know for certain that green coffee bean extract reduces the absorption of carbohydrates and possibly fats from the intestines,” Nagendran says. “Additionally, we believe that it also has an action on one or more of the gut hormones that regulate glucose as well as fat metabolism.”
Although Nagendran and his team did not document any side effectsin the group the participated in their study, they recommend talking to your doctor before commencing green coffee bean extract.
Are Red Raspberry Ketones Effective?
If you’re talking about mice, there’s some proof to the weight-loss benefits of red raspberry ketones. But there have been no studies done on this weight-loss product in humans. The positive news on the nutraceutical came first from a study in 2005 by Japanese researchers, who found that red raspberry ketones were effective for reducing obesity in mice that were fed a high-fat diet.
A subsequent study done in Korea in 2010 confirmed that red raspberry ketones prevented obesity in male mice on a high-fat diet. The mechanism of action is thought to be an increase in the breakdown of fat cells. That may be great news for mice, but it says nothing about whether the product is safe or effective for people.
Bottom Line on Magic Bullets for Weight Loss
Over-the-counter, natural weight-loss products like green coffee bean extract or red raspberry ketone are not approved or regulated by the FDA. They might decrease your appetite, reduce fat absorption, or stimulate your metabolism, but “natural” does not mean safe, and valid scientific evidence for their effectiveness remains limited. The green coffee bean extract study, for instance, involved just 16 people. In addition, many weight-loss supplements have side effects, and they can interfere with other medications. All of this makes it important to check with your doctor before taking any weight-loss product. Also check with FDA website for any product safety warnings.
Even if you have some success with a weight-loss product after checking with your doctor, remember that these products are no substitute for a healthy lifestyle. “Nutraceuticals only work well when people additionally observe diet and exercise,” says Nagendran. “These disciplines make the weight loss more effective and sustained.”