There are many popular weight loss supplements.
One of them is called Hydroxycut and 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 products — pills, capsules, 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.
The company also has another product called Hydroxycut Hardcore, which contains different ingredients altogether, including green coffee bean extract, yohimbine and an even high dose of caffeine.
Most of their other products have the same active ingredients and should have similar effects.
Summary 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 that people develop a tolerance to caffeine (5).
There are no good studies showing that caffeine leads to weight loss in the long term.
In addition, the effectiveness of all individual active herbal ingredients in Hydroxycut for weight loss has not been researched.
One study in 78 overweight people found that taking three komijn extract capsules every day for two months led to significantly greater weight loss than a placebo (6).
Komijn extract caused similar weight loss as the drug orlistat120.
Another study tested the four herbs found in Hydroxycut pills together — lady's mantle, wild olive, komijn and wild mint.
In this study, the combination of herbs reduced body weight gain in chickens by about 20% and significantly boosted the metabolic rate in rats (7).
However, keep in mind that what works in test animals doesn't always work in humans. The study also used very high doses. Therefore, the results should be taken with a grain of salt.
Summary There is some evidence that caffeine can boost metabolism and increase fat burning. The other active ingredients in Hydroxycut 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 tested the four main herbal ingredients, without the caffeine.
This 12-week study was a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial in 34 overweight or obese people.
The participants took either the herbal extract or a placebo half an hour before meals.
They were not instructed to diet and exercise but were asked to only eat three meals per day and to avoid snacking.
These were the results:
The group taking the herbal blend lost 21 pounds (9.5 kg), compared to only 1.8 pounds (0.8 kg) in the placebo group.
The body mass index (BMI) of the herbal blend group went from 31 to 28 or from obese to overweight, while it barely changed in the placebo group.
The study reported no adverse effects — neither minor nor serious.
According to this study — the main study cited by Hydroxycut in their marketing materials — the herbal ingredients in Hydroxycut can lead to significant weight loss.
The "clinically proven" stamp on the company’s flagship product is based on this research.
However, keep in mind that this is just one small, 12-week study and that future studies may lead to a different conclusion.
Summary One study on the active herbal ingredients in Hydroxycut showed that it caused weight loss of 21 pounds (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, chances are that it can work.
Summary No studies have directly tested Hydroxycut Hardcore, but the active ingredients have shown some effectiveness 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 (15).
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.
A search for “Hydroxycut” on Google Scholar or PubMed won't find anything about the supplement truly working but dozens of reports of dangerous side effects.
Given that Hydroxycut has a history of using ingredients in their products that have caused serious side effects, it seems to be a good idea to be extra cautious with this particular line of supplements.
Summary 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 avoid Hydroxycut or take the caffeine-free version instead.
The higher your dosage, the greater your risk of side effects.
It’s recommended that people increase their dosage slowly, starting with 1 tablet, 3 times per day and moving on to 2 tablets, 3 times per day after four days.
However, keep in mind that dosage recommendations vary between the different products. Therefore, read the instructions carefully and don’t exceed the recommendation.
You may develop a tolerance to some of the substances in Hydroxycut like caffeine. Therefore, you may get better results by cycling the product — for example, 4 weeks on, 4 weeks off, etc.
If you read consumer reports on forums and message boards, you will notice that for every person who succeeds with this supplement, another person says it had 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 shortcuts, unfortunately