There are many popular weight loss supplements on the market.
Hydroxycut is a well-known weight loss supplement company that’s been around for more than 2 decades.
Though the company claims its products can help people shed pounds and boost energy levels, Hydroxycut has faced a lot of controversy for its unsubstantiated claims and potential side effects.
This article takes an objective look at Hydroxycut and reviews the science behind it.
Hydroxycut is a brand of weight loss supplements.
It offers various products, including pills, capsules, shakes, and gummies.
The brand’s most popular product is a pill called Hydroxycut Original. It has previously gone by the names “Hydroxycut,” “Hydroxycut Clinical,” and “Pro Clinical Hydroxycut.”
As of today, the active ingredients in Hydroxycut Original are (1):
- robusta coffee extract (C. canephora robusta)
- apple cider vinegar (Malus pumila)
- plum (Prunus domestica)
- baobab extract (Adansonia digitata)
- cardamom (Amomum cardamomum)
- caffeine from coffee extract (Coffea robusta)
The supplement also contains vitamin D and numerous B vitamins, including a high dose of vitamin B12 — 250% of the recommended Daily Value (1).
Non-active ingredients include rice flour, gelatin, titanium dioxide, magnesium stearate, and silicon dioxide (1).
The company’s other popular product is called Hydroxycut Hardcore. It contains a different formulation, including caffeine anhydrous, green coffee extract (GCE), yohimbine, cayenne pepper, and a mix of amino acids (2).
While they come in different forms, most of Hydroxycut’s other products have the same active ingredients as Hydroxycut Original.
Hydroxycut is a brand that sells weight loss supplements. Its two most popular products are Hydroxycut Original and Hydroxycut Hardcore.
Hydroxycut failed Healthline’s rigorous vetting process due to concerns over the company’s medical claims, brand marketing, product safety, and involvement in multiple lawsuits.
Hydroxycut advertises its products for “hardcore weight loss” and a way to quickly lose weight, despite a lack of research on the effectiveness of its supplements.
What’s more, the testimonials on the company’s website highlight weight loss in a way that makes assumptions about a person’s happiness being related to their body size, which is not aligned with Healthline Nutrition’s approach to wellness.
In addition to its concerning marketing messages, the company has been subject to several recalls over the years due to concerns about the safety of its products.
Hydroxycut has also been involved in several lawsuits, including a 2017 class-action lawsuit over false and misleading claims about Hydroxycut supplements’ effectiveness (3).
According to online reviews outside of the company’s website, most customers have reported limited to mild weight loss with taking Hydroxycut products and attribute the supplement’s appetite-suppressing effects to its high caffeine content.
Most reviews state that Hydroxycut products alone will not promote weight loss and that a healthy diet and exercise program are also needed.
Some customers claim that the supplements gave them additional energy for their workouts, which is most likely due to the caffeine content.
However, there are numerous complaints of unwanted and “scary” side effects, such as:
- excessive sweating
- rapid heartbeat
Hydroxycut Original has more than 4,000 ratings on Amazon, with an average 4 out of 5 rating. Most of the ratings are 5 stars or 1 star, suggesting that consumers either had a very positive or a very negative experience.
At best, the product appears to help suppress appetite slightly. However, there are healthier ways to increase fullness, such as eating a diet high in fiber and protein, that don’t rely on such high amounts of caffeine.
There’s currently no research on the safety and effectiveness of Hydroxycut products.
Some people may experience side effects, possibly from the caffeine.
While the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of Dietary Supplements notes that between 400 and 500 mg of caffeine per day does not pose safety concerns, caffeine in general can cause nervousness, jitteriness, and shakiness (
Different Hydroxycut products contain different amounts of caffeine.
For example, each 2-capsule serving of Hydroxycut Original contains 200 mg of caffeine, while 2 capsules of Hydroxycut Hardcore contain 265 mg of caffeine. Taking either product twice daily as Hydroxycut recommends may mean you consume enough caffeine to experience side effects.
Taking more than recommended may cause you to consume toxic levels of caffeine (more than 15 mg/kg of body weight, according to the NIH Office of Dietary Supplements) (
Numerous cases of toxicity
Most of the dangerous side effects of Hydroxycut were due to the older formulations.
Hydroxycut Original used to contain ephedra, a powerful stimulant.
In 2004, the FDA banned ephedra because it caused serious side effects. In fact, about 155 deaths are believed to have been caused by supplements that contained ephedra, including Hydroxycut (5,
Several years later, in 2009, Hydroxycut was recalled because of numerous case reports of hepatotoxicity (liver poisoning) and other serious adverse effects. In 2010, Hydroxycut returned to market with a new formula (
Still, there have been several reports of dangerous side effects in recent years, even with the current formulation — including liver injury, ulcerative colitis, and narrowing of blood vessels in the brain (
Furthermore, yohimbe, an ingredient found in Hydroxycut Hardcore, has been associated with heart attacks and seizures and may interact with certain antidepressant medications (
Given the lack of research on the safety of Hydroxycut and numerous reports of adverse effects, it’s best to avoid or at least practice extreme caution when considering Hydroxycut supplements.
Hydroxycut sells eight products, which the company claims can support weight loss (13):
- Hydroxycut Original: weight loss capsules that contain caffeine, green coffee extract, and vitamins to support energy metabolism
- Hydroxycut Gummies: a 99% caffeine-free vitamin and mineral supplement with added C. canephora robusta (robusta coffee) intended to promote weight loss
- Hydroxycut Hardcore: weight loss capsules containing highly concentrated caffeine intended to promote weight loss and boost energy
- Hydroxycut Drink Mix: a drink mix containing similar ingredients to Hydroxycut Original with additional vitamins and minerals
- Cut Energy: an energy drink containing high amounts of caffeine and added vitamins to promote weight loss
- Hydroxycut Non-Stimulant: a caffeine-free version of Hydroxycut Original
- Hydroxycut Advanced: capsules that contain caffeine, robusta coffee extract, MCT oil, yohimbe extract, black caraway extract, purslane extract, maitake mushroom extract, and chicory extract
- Hydroxycut +Women: capsules containing additional ingredients such as biotin, collagen, folic acid, and iron
Hydroxycut offers eight products that are marketed as weight loss supplements. Most of these products contain high amounts of caffeine.
Hydroxycut Original is the most popular Hydroxycut product. It contains several active ingredients that the company claims can lead to weight loss.
Interestingly, Hydroxycut Original’s effectiveness hasn’t been examined by quality clinical studies. Instead, the company relies on research of individual ingredients to support the supplement’s claims.
Coffee extract (caffeine)
Coffee extract (as Coffea robusta) is the main ingredient in Hydroxycut Original. One serving (2 capsules) contains 200 mg of caffeine — though the company recommends taking up to 2 servings (4 capsules) per day, for a total intake of 400 mg of caffeine.
Keep in mind that the FDA recommends a maximum caffeine intake of around 400 mg per day, which is quickly exceeded with 2 servings of Hydroxycut Original (
Numerous studies show that caffeine may help increase your metabolism and enhance fat burning.
In fact, a 2019 review of studies found that caffeine intake is associated with greater reductions in weight, fat mass, and body mass index (BMI) (
Interestingly, the researchers also observed a dose-response relationship, suggesting that consuming greater amounts of caffeine led to greater weight and fat loss (
Several other studies and reviews also suggest a relationship between caffeine intake from coffee and greater weight loss and metabolism. However, results appear to be modest at best (
In summary, caffeine intake is linked with minor weight loss. However, most studies looked at coffee consumption, meaning that their results may not apply to coffee extract supplements. Furthermore, consuming large amounts of caffeine is not recommended.
Robusta coffee extract
Hydroxycut Original also contains robusta coffee extract (as C. canephora robusta) with 45% chlorogenic acid, a type of antioxidant linked with weight loss.
This extract is a nonstimulant form of coffee derived from green coffee beans. Because green coffee beans aren’t roasted, they contain very little caffeine.
One review of 16 studies found that supplementing with GCE resulted in significant decreases in BMI and body weight, especially after 4 or more weeks (
Note that the original study had an error that reported no changes in body weight, which was corrected in a follow-up paper (
Another randomized study observed significant reductions in waist circumference (2.4 cm, or 0.9 inches) and body weight (2.08 kg, or 4.6 pounds) in people who took 800 mg of GCE for 8 weeks compared with the control group, which had no improvements (
Additionally, a study in 60 women with obesity found that taking 400 mg of GCE for 8 weeks alongside a calorie-reduced diet led to a significantly greater reduction in weight (1.5 kg, or 3.3 pounds) and fat mass (0.52 kg, or 1.15 pounds) than a calorie-reduced diet (control) alone (
Overall, there’s some research linking GCE to weight loss, but its effects are quite small and may not be clinically significant.
Apple cider vinegar
Made from fermented apple juice, apple cider vinegar (ACV) is a popular ingredient for weight loss, despite mixed research on its effectiveness.
In one small randomized study, 39 participants were placed on a calorie-restricted diet with a deficit of 250 calories per day. The ACV group was also instructed to drink 30 mL of ACV per day (25).
After 12 weeks, participants in the ACV group lost an average of 8 pounds (4 kg), while those in the control group lost an average of 5 pounds (2.3 kg). Furthermore, the ACV group reported significantly lower appetite scores, suggesting that ACV may help curb appetite (25).
However, both groups observed a decrease in body fat percentage and waist circumference, with no significant differences between groups (25).
A 2021 review of studies on ACV found that taking ACV supplements was not effective in decreasing BMI or body fat percentage. However, the authors noted that the research on ACV supplements for weight loss is overall limited and lacks high quality studies (
Another review also suggests that there’s inadequate high quality research to support ACV as a tool for weight loss (
Plums are a highly nutritious and fiber-filled fruit.
There doesn’t appear to be any rationale behind adding plums to Hydroxycut Original. In fact, there’s no research on the topic.
With that said, eating whole plums can be a great way to increase your fiber intake, which may help curb appetite and support weight loss (
However, the amount of plum found in Hydroxycut products is very small and doesn’t contribute any meaningful amount of fiber.
Plums also contain sorbitol, a type of sugar alcohol that has laxative effects. In theory, sorbitol from plums could result in more frequent bowel movements and therefore a loss of water weight. However, this wouldn’t lead to fat loss (
Overall, there’s little evidence supporting plums as an ingredient for weight loss.
Baobab is a fruit that comes from the baobab tree. It’s commonly found as a whole fruit, in powdered form, or as an extract.
As a whole fruit, baobab is high in fiber and many vitamins, minerals, and polyphenols. Due to its high fiber content, it may increase feelings of fullness and support weight loss.
Interestingly, one small study with 20 people found that those who took baobab powder (15 g) in a smoothie had greater satiety than those whose smoothies did not contain baobab. The authors attributed these results to baobab’s high fiber and polyphenol content (
Another small study found baobab extract to be more effective for regulating postmeal glucose levels than the control (
Baobab’s high polyphenol content is thought to help regulate blood sugar levels, which could translate to better hunger regulation. That said, more research is needed (
It appears baobab extract may have an effect on hunger levels, but there’s currently no research to support its effect on weight loss.
Furthermore, the amount of baobab found in Hydroxycut products is very small, and likely not enough to provide any meaningful benefit.
Cardamom is a pod spice that belongs to the ginger family.
One study with 80 women with overweight or obesity found that those who consumed 3 grams of cardamom powder for 3 months experienced a significant — although small — reduction in waist circumference (0.2 inches, or 0.5 cm). The control group had no improvements (
Another study found that rats that were fed cardamom powder were less likely to develop obesity and store fat around the stomach. However, these results haven’t been replicated in humans (
Finally, a 3-month study involving 87 people with overweight or obesity found no significant differences in weight or BMI in participants who took 3 grams of cardamom powder per day compared with the control group (
Overall, there’s insufficient evidence to support cardamom as an effective weight loss ingredient. Plus, even if there were evidence, there isn’t a significant amount of cardamom found in Hydroxycut products.
Hydroxycut Original also contains several added vitamins, including:
All of these vitamins play a key role in energy metabolism, and low levels of them are associated with decreased energy and fatigue. However, if your levels are already sufficient, increasing your intake of these vitamins is unlikely to have additional benefits (
While some ingredients in Hydroxycut Original may have modest effects on weight or appetite, there’s currently insufficient evidence to suggest that taking supplements containing these ingredients will result in meaningful weight loss.
The company recommends starting slowly and gradually increasing the number of Hydroxycut Original capsules you take per day.
Current dosage recommendations for Hydroxycut Original are as follows (1):
- Days 1–3: 1 capsule twice daily
- Day 4 and beyond: 2 capsules twice daily
Keep in mind that dosage recommendations vary between products. Therefore, it’s important to read the instructions carefully and not to exceed the recommended dosage.
Hydroxycut recommends gradually increasing your daily dosage to up to four capsules per day. However, the recommended dose varies by product, so it’s important to read the label carefully.
Hydroxycut Original and Hydroxycut Hardcore are the two most popular Hydroxycut products.
While the two supplements make similar claims, they contain different ingredients and are marketed toward different audiences. For example, Hydroxycut Hardcore contains higher amounts of caffeine and stimulants for increased energy.
Specifically, it contains caffeine anhydrous, which the company claims provides “extreme energy” after just one dose. Because caffeine is a stimulant, it isn’t surprising that Hydroxycut Hardcore could provide an energy boost (2).
In addition to its high caffeine content, Hydroxycut Hardcore contains cayenne pepper.
Capsaicin — the main ingredient in cayenne pepper — in particular has been researched for its potential metabolism-boosting effects, though taking it as a supplement is unlikely to lead to meaningful weight loss (
Another ingredient is yohimbe — an herb that’s frequently found in weight loss supplements, though there’s very little evidence to support its effectiveness for weight loss (
In contrast, Hydroxycut Original contains popular “metabolism-boosting” ingredients such as ACV, GCE, and caffeine. It also includes several B vitamins to support the metabolism of nutrients (1).
Based on the products’ advertising, Hydroxycut Hardcore is targeted more toward athletes and bodybuilders, whereas Hydroxycut Original is marketed for those interested in general weight loss (2).
As with Hydroxycut Original, there’s currently no research on the effectiveness of Hydroxycut Hardcore.
Hydroxycut Hardcore contains a highly concentrated form of caffeine and is targeted toward athletes and bodybuilders, claiming to support weight loss and boost energy levels.
In contrast, Hydroxycut Original claims to support general weight loss.
Currently, there is no research that either supplement is effective.
If you read consumer reports on forums and message boards, you’ll notice that for every person who succeeds with this supplement, another says it had no effect.
This seems to be the case with most weight loss supplements — some people have success with them, while others don’t.
However, like any other quick weight loss method, taking Hydroxycut supplements is unlikely to produce long-term results unless followed by lasting lifestyle changes. Losing weight is a marathon, not a race, and there are no shortcuts.
Furthermore, as there are concerns about the ethics of the company and the safety of its products, Healthline doesn’t recommend Hydroxycut as a safe or effective weight loss solution.
If you’re preoccupied with food or your weight, feel guilt about food choices, or engage in restrictive diets, consider reaching out for support. These behaviors may indicate a disordered relationship with food or an eating disorder.
Disordered eating and eating disorders can affect anyone, regardless of gender identity, race, age, socioeconomic status, or other identities.
They can be caused by any combination of biological, social, cultural, and environmental factors — not just by exposure to diet culture.
Feel empowered to talk with a qualified healthcare professional, such as a registered dietitian, if you’re struggling.
You can also chat, call, or text anonymously with trained volunteers at the National Eating Disorders Association helpline for free or explore the organization’s free and low cost resources.
If you’re looking for long-term results, it’s better to focus on sustainable lifestyle habits such as eating a nutritious diet and exercising regularly.
Is Hydroxycut safe to use?
While Hydroxycut may be safe for non-pregnant adults, there isn’t any research on Hydroxycut products to definitively say that the supplements are safe to take, especially for an extended period.
Additionally, there have been reports of unwanted side effects such as jitters, rapid heart rate, nausea, and — in severe cases — liver damage. Ultimately, it’s best to speak with a healthcare professional before purchasing Hydroxycut supplements.
How long does it take to see results with Hydroxycut?
Hydroxycut doesn’t provide a specific time frame in which you can expect to lose weight. However, the brand’s website features testimonials that claim you can lose up to 10 pounds (4.5 kg) in 1 month when pairing the products with a healthy diet and exercise.
Still, keep in mind that there’s currently no research to show whether Hydroxycut products are actually effective for weight loss.
How much does Hydroxycut cost?
Hydroxycut Original costs $19.99 for 60 capsules.
Who is Hydroxycut for?
Hydroxycut states that its products are suitable for non-pregnant adults over age 18 who are looking to lose weight. The company even offers an online quiz to help find out which product is best suited for you based on your goals and lifestyle.
That said, Healthline does not recommend Hydroxycut as a weight loss tool due to its insufficient evidence and potential health risks.
If you’re looking to lose weight, you’re better off adopting sustainable healthy lifestyle habits, such as eating a minimally processed diet, exercising regularly, managing your stress, and getting quality sleep.
If you’re interested in losing weight or need help maintaining it, there are more realistic and sustainable alternatives.
Here are our picks for the best weight loss programs and resources to try instead:
- WW: Previously known as Weight Watchers, WW offers three plans, making it easy to find a weight loss regimen that fits your goals and lifestyle.
- PlateJoy: For just $4.99/month, PlateJoy provides customized meal plans and shopping lists to help you achieve your nutrition goals. PlateJoy is a sister site of Healthline.
- Sunbasket: Offering plans to suit a wide variety of dietary needs and preferences, Sunbasket makes it easy to cook nutritious, restaurant-quality meals at home.
Hydroxycut is a weight loss supplement company that promises to boost your energy and metabolism.
Though it claims that its products will help you lose weight, very few of the ingredients’ weight loss claims are supported by scientific research. What’s more, there are no clinical trials on the safety or effectiveness of Hydroxycut supplements.
Some Hydroxycut products also contain high levels of caffeine, which may cause side effects depending on the amount consumed.
Instead of spending your money on Hydroxycut products, Healthline recommends following a sustainable healthy lifestyle that will help you achieve long-term results.