There are many popular weight loss supplements out there.
One of them is called Hydroxycut, which has been around for more than a decade.
This article takes an objective look at Hydroxycut and reviews the science behind it.
Hydroxycut is a brand of weight loss supplements.
They offer various different products... pills, tablets, shakes and gummies.
Their most popular product is a pill that is simply called "Hydroxycut" - sometimes with the words "Pro Clinical" attached.
As of today, the active ingredients are:
- Lady's mantle extract (Alchemilla vulgaris).
- Wild Olive Extract (Olea europaea).
- Komijn Extract (Cuminum cyminum).
- Wild mint extract (Vaccinium myrtillus).
It also contains calcium, Vitamin C and some other minor ingredients.
They also have another product called Hydroxycut Hardcore, which contains different ingredients altogether. This includes green coffee bean extract, yohimbine and an even greater dose of caffeine.
Most of their other products contain the same active ingredients and should have similar effects.
Bottom Line:Hydroxycut produces a number of weight loss supplements. Most of them contain caffeine and a blend of different herbs.
Hydroxycut is basically a blend of several different ingredients that are supposed to lead to weight loss.
Caffeine is definitely the most potent of them.
However, keep in mind that this is a short term effect and it is well known that people develop a tolerance to caffeine (5).
There are no good studies showing that caffeine leads to weight loss in the long term.
Unfortunately, I did not find any studies that tested the active herbal ingredients in Hydroxycut individually.
However, there is one study that used the 4 herbs together (Lady's mantle extract, Wild Olive Extract, Komijn Extract and Wild mint extract).
In this study, a group of researchers gave this combination of herbs to chickens and rats. The herbs reduced body weight gain in chickens by about 20% and significantly boosted the metabolic rate in rats (6).
But keep in mind that what works in test animals doesn't always work in humans. They also used very large doses, so take all of this with a big grain of salt.
Bottom Line: There is some evidence that caffeine can boost metabolism and increase fat burning. The other active ingredients have been shown to boost metabolism in rats and reduce weight gain in chickens.
Unfortunately, there is no study in humans that directly tests Hydroxycut itself.
However, one study did test the 4 main herbal ingredients, without the caffeine.
This study was a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial in 34 overweight/obese human volunteers.
The participants took either the herbal extract or placebo (a dummy pill) half an hour before each of 3 daily meals. The study went on for 12 weeks.
They were not instructed to diet and exercise, but were asked to only eat 3 meals per day and to avoid snacking.
These were the results: The group taking the herbal blend lost 21 lbs (9.5 kg), while the placebo group lost only 1.8 lbs (0.8 kg).
The body mass index of the herbal blend group also went from 31 to 28 (from obese to overweight), while it barely changed in the placebo group.
In this study, there were no reports of adverse effects, neither minor nor serious.
According to this one study, the herbal ingredients in Hydroxycut can lead to significant weight loss.
This is the main study cited by Hydroxycut in their marketing material. The "clinically proven" stamp on their flagship product is based on it.
However, keep in mind that this is just one small study and it only went on for 12 weeks. It is possible that future studies will lead to a different conclusion.
Bottom Line:One study on the active herbal ingredients in Hydroxycut showed that it caused weight loss of 21 lbs (9.5 kg) in only 12 weeks.
There are no studies on Hydroxycut Hardcore.
However, many of the active ingredients have been studied individually.
The main ingredient is Green Coffee Bean Extract, which has been tested in numerous studies.
Again, not a single study has been conducted on the exact formulation in Hydroxycut Hardcore. But given that the individual ingredients have shown some promise individually, chances are that it can work.
Bottom Line: No studies have directly tested Hydroxycut Hardcore, but the active ingredients do have some evidence of being effective as weight loss aids.
Hydroxycut used to contain Ephedra... a powerful stimulant.
Later, Ephedra was banned by the FDA because it caused serious side effects.
About 155 deaths are believed to have been caused by supplements that contained Ephedra, including Hydroxycut.
In the year 2009, Hydroxycut was recalled because of numerous case reports of hepatotoxicity (liver poisoning) and other serious adverse effects (14).
But in 2010, they came back to the market with a new formula. Most of the dangerous side effects of Hydroxycut were due to the older formulations.
If you don't believe me, try going on Google Scholar or PubMed and search for "Hydroxycut" ... you won't find anything about the supplement actually working, but you will find dozens of reports of dangerous side effects.
Given that Hydroxycut has a history of using stuff in their products that has caused serious side effects (including death), then it seems to be a good idea to be extra cautious with this particular line of supplements.
Bottom Line:There have been numerous reports of dangerous side effects with Hydroxycut, but most of them were due to the older formulations.
The current formulation of hydroxycut can cause a number of side effects, most of them due to the caffeine.
This includes insomnia, jitteriness, anxiety, nausea, diarrhea and other related symptoms.
Hydroxycut Hardcore may be even more problematic in this regard, because it is higher in caffeine.
For this reason, people who are sensitive to caffeine should probably avoid Hydroxycut, or take the caffeine free version instead.
The higher your dosage, the greater your risk of side effects. It is recommended that people ramp up their dosage slowly, starting with 1 tablet, 3 times per day. Then after 4 days, working up to 2 tablets, 3 times per day.
But keep in mind that dosage recommendations vary between the different products, so read the instructions and do NOT exceed the recommended dosage.
Some of the substances in Hydroxycut (like caffeine) can lead to tolerance, so you may get better results by cycling it. For example, 4 weeks on, 4 weeks off, etc.
If you look around the forums and message boards, for every person who succeeds with this supplement, you'll see another person (or five) who says it has no effect.
This seems to be the case with most weight loss supplements... some people have success with them, others don't.
At the end of the day, hydroxycut may be useful as a fat burning tool in the short term, as long as you're also eating healthy and exercising.
But, same as with any other weight loss method, it won't lead to long term results unless followed by a lasting lifestyle change.
Losing weight is a marathon, not a race... and there are no short cuts, unfortunately.