The compound 7-Ketodehydroepiandrosterone (7-keto-DHEA) which is also known as 7-oxoprasterone is a prohormone. It is a widely promoted supplement that is incorporated into product mixes as a means to improve upon weight loss, especially belly fat. There are many extravagant claims made for the supplement which are largely unfounded such as being able to create a leaner body mass, to build muscle, improve cognitive function especially the memory, increase thyroid gland activity and even limit aging.
DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) is a hormone produced in the adrenal glands. It is also sold in over-the-counter medicines. 7-keto-DHEA is a derivative of DHEA but is not a sex hormone or one which alters the levels of other sex hormones.
Supplements and active support mixes for sportspeople are a common vehicle for 7-keto DHEA. It is claimed to speed up metabolism which implies weight loss without the need for strenuous exercise. Body fat is burnt in the process. However, there are few clinical trials and no long-term studies illustrating the power of the compound.
One study was established to assess the performance of 7-keto DHEA in weight loss. It appears to increase the resting metabolic rate in subjects who were already taking part in weight-loss diets and were already exercising regularly. An eight week study saw a small number of participants take 100mg of 7-keto DHEA twice daily. They lost 6.3 pounds whilst the placebo group lost two pounds. There were no safety issues with taking the supplement. There are no studies on the long-term use of the compound. In this study participants were already on weight-limited diets and exercising regularly anyway. The ideal weight loss when on a calorie-restricted diet is roughly one per cent of body weight every week. It should be possible to lose 2 pounds of weight regularly without resorting to supplementation. However, 7-keto DHEA poses some interesting questions for those looking to reduce their weight significantly.
It is not recommended that anyone takes DHEA without medical supervision. It poses an increased risk of cardiovascular arrest (heart attack) and breast and prostate cancer. One US brand Pump Chaser is a strong advocate of this type of supplement.