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Is 7-Keto an Effective Fat Burner?

There are a number of fat burners on the market that make brave claims about what the product does. Some guarantee astonishing results that are just not backed up by science.

Whilst ingredients such as caffeine and green tea extract have been shown to boost fat loss in numerous, robust studies, some supplements have limited scientific backing.

In this article we’ll tell you why 7-keto may not the best choice for your goals. Here’s what we’ll cover:

  • What is 7-keto?
  • Science breakdown – does it have any benefits
  • What are the side effects?

What is 7-keto?

3-acetyl-7-oxo-dehydroepiandrosterone, or 7-ketoDHEA for short, is a non-hormonal metabolite of the prohormone dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA).

DHEA is a naturally occurring cousin of the synthetic, by-product 7-keto. It is produced in the adrenal gland and is a natural chemical that has prohormone properties.

It’s role in the body is to convert into steroid hormones such as testosterone or estrogen – the primary male and female sex hormones.

The theory behind 7-keto is that its three oxygenated metabolites convert with one another to provide a thermogenic effect – they increase body heat, which in turn increases calorie burning.

Unlike DHEA it is not thought to boost testosterone, but instead stimulate the thyroid to increase metabolic rate. As this gland controls metabolic rate, it is thought that 7-keto can aid in weight loss. In fact, as a synthetic supplement this is what it is designed for.

The supplement is marketed primarily as a fat burner and weight loss accelerator. It has also been claimed that it can boost metabolism and even improve memory.

But can these claim be backed up with science? Let’s take a look…


Key Point: 7-keto is a distant relative of the anabolic prohormone DHEA.

The Science – Does 7-Keto Boost Weight Loss?

It is claimed that this supplement causes weight loss with two distinct mechanisms.

Firstly, it is thought that it boosts fat burning by stimulating acyl-CoA oxidase – an enzyme that triggers oxidation of fat cells. Secondly, it is believed that the increased thermogenic effect is down to the stimulation of specific enzymes that increase heat and cellular respiration – a process where nutrients convert into usable energy.

There are a modest amount of animal studies that show some promising weight loss evidence. Worryingly though, there are very few human studies to draw upon for actual transferable evidence. Pretty much the whole marketing claims rely on the findings of one or two very small studies.

In one study [1], 30 obese volunteers were placed on a low-calorie diet of 1800kcal. Half were asked to ingest 200mg of 7-keto as well. At the end of the 8-week study, the supplement group had lost 6.3lbs as opposed to the diet only group who lost 2.2lbs.

Whilst these results seem at first glance promising, it is worth realizing that this is only one study – and with a very low number of participants as well. Each volunteers was already on a very calorie-restricted diet and exercising on a regular basis. A loss of 6.3lbs is not remarkable weight loss either – on a restricted diet you’d expect to be losing 1-2lbs, more if you are obese.

Surprisingly though, this is still one of the largest and longest studies clinical trials available.

Many other studies are confounded due to the supplement being used in conjunction with other fat burner ingredients. This makes it difficult to assess which ingredient caused changes to body composition.


Key Point: There are very few human clinical trials using 7-keto. It may help with weight loss but there just isn’t enough evidence at present.

Is 7-keto Safe?

7-keto does not appear to have any serious side effects, nor does it have the same sex hormone-related side effects as DHEA – acne, hair loss or mood changes.

The most common side effect is heart palpitations. This is often accompanied with a rapid hear rate and subsequently may increase the risk of heart attack. It is advised that in those with diabetes, this supplement might make symptoms worse. This is due to the way it is metabolized.

Currently, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has an imposed ban on this supplement, meaning that it cannot be used by athletes. It is listed under anabolic steroids, most probably due to it’s relation to testosterone-stimulating DHEA [2].

Summary – Is 7-keto an Effective Fat Burner

7-keto is a non-hormonal metabolite of dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA). It’s chemical orientation means that it may offer some of the benefits of DHEA but without the direct influence on steroid sex hormones. It has been marketed to boost weight loss, increase metabolism and also improve memory.

There are a number of animal studies available, but a very limited number of human clinical trials to draw upon. Whilst one in particular suggests some modest benefits to this supplement, its research methods are not robust – small sample size, confounding variables and small effect sizes mean it is not particularly reliable evidence.

We suggest until more clinical trials are released using human participants, you use a fat burner that is more clinically evidenced and has ingredients that are more likely to benefit you.


  1. Saiman, DS et al. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study of 3-acetyl-7-oxo-dehydroepiandrosterone in healthy overweight adults. Curr Therap Res. 2000; 61(7): 435-442
  2. World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). List of prohibited substances and methods. 2016.