Keto diet pills are being marketed like crazy, and unfortunately a lot of people are losing money over it.
Do they work at all? Is this whole thing a scam?
You asked and now I'm answering.
The question of this whole keto-craze and whether or not keto-inducing pills are a scam is something that needs to be address... after all, these are new types of products that are often marketed in ways that make them appear "too good to be true".
Of course everyone wants to take the easiest route possible, but actually achieving ketosis on your own can be quite a challenge. In order to do so you have to starve your body of carbs so that it has no choice but to use fat as a fuel source and to produce ketones.
Ketosis Explained: Ketosis is the state your body is in when ketone levels in the bloodstream are greater than 0.5mM.
In order to achieve this state naturally you have to cut carbs out of your diet, which forces your body to use fat for energy and causes it to produce ketones.
The said benefits of achieving this fat-burning state include...
- Fat loss (of course)
- Mental clarity
- More steady energy throughout the day
- Less inflammation
- Better mood
... and more.
However, achieving this state is easier said than done and can take weeks of strict dieting to reach, which is a challenge that many people aren't up for.
What are Keto Diet Pills?
Keto diet pills are designed to help put your body into a state of ketosis without all the work.
Ketones can be produced by your body or can come from external sources, like the pills we are talking about here. The ketones coming from pills are called exogenous while those produced by the body are endogenous.
What keto diet pills supposedly allow you to do is eat the same but still enjoy ketosis because you are elevating ketone levels in your blood by simply ingesting ketones. So this means you can still eat that pasta, or make your morning cup of coffee as sugary as possible.
The main ingredientsin these pills is BHB, or Beta-hydroxybutyrate..
..which is what helps induce a state of ketosis without you jumping on the treadmill, cutting out carbs, or doing anything differently in your daily life.
The Science Behind Them
There are three different forms of ketones but BHB is what you find in most products, which is produced naturally by the body and is in the highest concentrations when ketosis is achieved naturally. Additionally, it is more stable which makes it a better choice for selling in supplements and it is best for energy production.
Acetoacetate and acetone are the two other ketones that your body produces from fatty acids when there aren't enough carbs to use for energy production, but BHB is the main one here.. BHB is the most abundant of the three, is the most used, and is the most stable, which is why this is a good choice for a supplement.
Types of Keto Diet Supplements
The two main types are ketone salts and ketone esters.
Ketone salts are ketones bound to a mineral, such as calcium, sodium or magnesium (usually sodium). They were the first to come to market but might not be all that effective because they are not bioidentical to anything produced naturally, which means your body might not use them as believed. They may be rejected or just not used as effeciently.
Ketone esters are ketone bodies bound to alcohol molecules (not alcohol like whiskey or beer). The good news about these ketones is that they are just like what your body makes naturally. So this means you can slip them into your diet and your body won't know the difference... and will use them.
Ketone Esters vs Ketone Salts
While science is still lacking in the area overall, ketone esters seem to be the much safer and more effective choice. As mentioned, they are identical to what your body produces naturally, so your body will use them without a hitch... and they won't cause and strange unwanted side-effect, which ketone salts might (side effects are not well known yet).
This is another type of ketone supplement that is claimed to be able to trigger the breakdown of fats inside cells better as well as help regulate the metabolism.
The reason they are called "raspberry" ketones is because they are a substance that occurs naturally in raspberries along with some other fruits in small amounts.
HOWEVER, the "raspberry ketones" you find in supplements is just a synthetic copycat, not the natural real thing.
Furthermore, raspberry ketones have nothing to do with ketogenic diets and there are no studies showing any weight-loss benefit for humans. Products with this synthetic ingredient in them are based on more hype than the 'normal' keto diet pills/supplements, which contain the ketone esters and salts mentioned above.
Why They Might Not Be a Good Choice
Natural Ketosis vs Pill-Induced Ketosis
If you are willing to put forth the effort, naturally achieving ketosis is beneficial over ketosis induced by pills in a number of ways.
Besides providing no challenge and not requiring discipline that is much needed to help keep the weight off long-term (which you would get if you were to do this naturally), taking pills that put you into a state of ketosis don't last long.
Sure, they elevate ketone levels in the blood, but this is short-lived. There is no natural ketone production going on and because of this the levels of ketones in the blood won't remain very high for long.
In addition to this... It just isn't natural and the effects of this aren't all that well-known.
Naturally you have either one or the other: You either eat carbs and use them for energy or you starve your self of carbs and use fat and ketones for energy... but never can you naturally be eating a lot of carbs and be using fat for energy in a state of ketosis... it just doesn't happen.
Natural doesn't always mean good, but usually it does and pumping in ketones from an external source is something that definitely isn't natural.
What Happens When You Come Off The Pills..
When you are taking supplements like this the levels of ketone bodies in your blood are elevated, which helps suppress your appetite. This is obviously a good thing when it comes to weight-loss but the problem comes into play when you are done with the pills, which could cause you to feel hungrier than you did before starting your diet because of how it messes with your metabolism.
It isn't natural so can it really be that effective?
Well, I know I've been saying this a lot, but unfortunately there hasn't been all that much research in this area yet.
A Limited Number of Conflicting Studies
When you do research on this topic right now you will find very few studies, which is bad enough... and to make things worse their findings are often conflicting. Some say exogenous keto supplements work while others disagree.
Some say they work...
A 2017 study in Frontiers in Physiology measured the effects of supplementing ketone esters and ketone salts. In the study 15 participants consumed drinks that contained these ketones in doses of 12g or 24g and the findings were that they are a practical way to achieve ketosis, having elevated blood BHB levels a good amount... and also having lowered blood glucose levels along with free fatty acid and triglyceride concentrations.
Others have found them ineffective..
One really good study on DietDoctor.com that I was able to find took a group of people and tested out the effectiveness of 4 of the top keto diet supplements on the market.
In this study the supplements were tested against a placebo for their ability to increase:
- Blood ketones
- Physical performance
- Mental performance
- Mental clarity
A variety of different tests were performed such as blood tests to measure ketone levels, max push-up tests to measure physical performance, questionnaires, and so on.
The results? Not very impressive...
While there was some improvement in some areas, the placebo actually performed better in others!
And again, this was testing some of the more expensive and trusted keto-inducing supplements out there... not the scammy products that will likely perform even worse!
One Likely Reason They Don't Work
Now this doesn't go for every keto supplement out there, but one thing I have noticed is that many of them include very small doses of BHB... very small.
In the study mentioned above that actually showed supplementing ketone esters and ketone salts to be beneficial, the patients had large doses of 12g or 24 g while many of the supplements I have looked at contain LESS THAN 1g PER SERVING!
That is a huge difference.
The safety concerns mostly come from the ketone salt products out there, which are understudied and as mentioned the side effects aren't really all that well known.
Additionally there are safety concerns because many keto pill supplements are being sold by unreputable and unestablished brands, which I'll be going over now...
Products That Can't Be Trusted
There are keto pill supplements out there that are manufactured by trusted companies. However, it seems that 90+ percent of them are made by no-name companies that have no reputation and can't be trusted all that much.
There is a long list of these products, but some that come to mind include:
... and a whole lot more.
Usually these supplements are marketed in an over-the-top ridiculous fashion, making them appear to be some sort of miracle product.
Here is an example in which you can claim a "free" bottle of Enhanced Keto...
Many of these supplements are marketed in similar ways and look almost identical, as you can see here...
.. and it is hard to say what exactly is going on.
Are they made by the same company? And if so, why is the company releasing new products under different names.
There are a number of supplements out there that are the same thing with the exception of their names being different, which just adds to the shady marketing behavior around these products.
Often times these similar products will have the same exact ingredients and dosages... shady operations to say the least.
Products Featured on Shark Tank??
One of the big points made in some of the marketing material surrounding such products is that they have been featured on the hit TV show Shark Tank. However, this is a complete lie and it has gotten to the point where Mark Cuban himself has felt the need to state this on Twitter...
So not only do these products likely not work as good as they are said to, but you also have to worry about unreputable brands selling you stuff that isn't what they claim it is.
You hear about it all the time... supplements being sold that have "filler" ingredients which don't do anything... this is what I worry about from products like this.
Pros v Cons of Keto Diet Pills
- Easy solution to achieving ketosis (maybe)
- Some proof that they work
- Limited evidence showing effectiveness
- Over-hyped marketing
- Side effects are largely unknown
- Unreputable brands that can't be trusted
Conclusion - Worth The Money?
There is no doubt that getting your body to state of ketosis naturally is going to be much more beneficial for weight loss, not just because it will last longer but also because the work it takes to get to the final state will help you reach your goal--however--I understand that not everyone wants to put in the work and wait 3+ weeks to get to this state.
So are the pills worth buying? There are some people that claim they have had noticeable benefits from keto supplements but there are also a lot of people that claim to have noticed nothing... and the science backing these supplements is 'iffy' at best.
What it really comes down to is whether or not you are willing to spend some money on another weight loss supplement that might not work.
And of course you also have to remember that there is a good chance you will end up being more hungry than you were in the first place after you stop supplementing the pills--which will just lead to post weight-gain if you are not disciplined.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is that there isn't much proof here and there are a lot of supplements out there from companies with no reputation that could be complete junk.
If you are going to buy the pills and give them a try, get something you can trust and be sure to check the amount of BHB in it first.
A Better (and Cheaper!) Alternative
Drink some coffee or tea.. get some caffeine.
Did you know that a lot of keto diet pills actually contain caffeine?
This further clouds the effectiveness of such pills because we don't know how much benefit is coming from the caffeine vs coming from the induced state of ketosis... if anything.
That said, keto diet pills don't have much good proof as to their effectiveness and caffeine is a much cheaper option with an abundance of scientific evidence backing its use for dieting and weight loss... AND you don't have to worry about buying from some potential scam company because it is so abundant.