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Hydroxycut Review: Is It Safe and Effective for Weight Loss?

Written by Melissa Mitri, MS, RD

Reviewed by Anthony Dugarte, MD 

Last Updated on June 16, 2021

Our Expert Rating:

2.5

About This Rating
The average rating of this product is calculated based on the evaluation of the following factors:
  • Support for Claims:2.0
  • Ingredient Safety:2.0
  • Value for the Price:3.0
  • Brand Transparency:3.0

Hydroxycut is a brand of dietary supplements marketed as a weight loss aid. It contains ingredients that have not been extensively studied for safety and effectiveness, therefore I would not recommend taking Hydroxycut products.

Hydroxycut Review: Is It Safe and Effective for Weight Loss?

Pros

  • Contains essential vitamins
  • May boost energy short-term
  • 30-day money-back guarantee

Cons

  • Limited evidence for effectiveness
  • Potential side effects
  • No third-party testing

What Is Hydroxycut?

Hydroxycut is a brand of weight loss supplements marketed for fast weight loss. The product contains a blend of herbs and caffeine to produce its intended effects.

The FDA issued a recall for Hydroxycut in 2009 due to it containing ephedra, an herb that caused dangerous side effects. It has since been removed and reformulated.

The 2 main types of Hydroxycut capsules are Pro Clinical Hydroxycut and Hydroxycut Hardcore.

The Hydroxycut brand also has supplements in a variety of forms – capsules, shakes, and gummies.

The dosage recommendation is 2 capsules twice per day, 30–60 minutes before your 2 largest meals.

For this review, I will primarily discuss the main type of Hydroxycut – the Pro Clinical Hydroxycut. I will also include a brief review of Hydroxycut Hardcore.

Pro Clinical Hydroxycut

Pro Clinical Hydroxycut is one of the most popular Hydroxycut weight loss products in capsule form. It is owned by Iovate Health Sciences, a biotechnology company.

The manufacturers claim Hydroxycut contains a “science-backed” weight loss ingredient called C. canephora robusta. However, there is not enough research to back these claims.

There was one small study that was conducted that showed increased weight loss in those taking Hydroxycut versus placebo. This study is cited on Hydroxycut’s website.

However, much of the limited research that has been done is funded by the supplement company itself.

When evaluating research, I’m always skeptical when I see it is funded by companies that could benefit financially from the findings.

This product has been reformulated based on past recalls because of liver damage, jaundice, nausea, diarrhea, and increased heart rate in those taking it.

It now contains a combination of vitamins, herbs, apple cider vinegar, and caffeine.

Hydroxycut Hardcore

Hydroxycut Hardcore is another weight loss product promoted as being designed for “hardcore weight loss.”

It contains C. canephora robusta like Pro Clinical Hydroxycut but otherwise has different ingredients.

This product is a combination of caffeine, green coffee extract, and several amino acids.

The claimed “secret” ingredient for success is caffeine anhydrous, intended to deliver extra energy.

Caffeine anhydrous is a highly concentrated stimulant. One teaspoon of caffeine anhydrous is roughly equivalent to 5,000 mg of caffeine, the amount that would be obtained from 52 cups of coffee. 

In fit adults, 4.45 mg/kg doses of caffeine anhydrous were associated with greater improvements in running time to exhaustion when compared to natural caffeine.

Besides that, there is not much evidence on the efficacy of most of the other ingredients present in Hydroxycut Hardcore.

Evaluation of Ingredients

Pro Clinical Hydroxycut contains three main ingredient blends:

1. Vitamin Blend

Vitamin D (10 mcg):

Vitamin D is involved in supporting a healthy metabolism. One 2018 clinical trial showed decreased weight, body mass index, and waist circumference in those taking 50,000 IU of vitamin D per week.

However, this dose is much higher than the 400 IU/day present in Hydroxycut.

B-Complex (5 mg):

This blend contains several B-vitamins, including thiamine, niacin, riboflavin, and Vitamin B6.

These B-vitamins may help improve energy levels and support brain health, according to a 2016 research review.

Vitamin B-12 (6 mcg):

Vitamin B-12 is an essential vitamin our bodies need but cannot produce on its own.

It is found mainly in animal foods, and so if you are a vegetarian and don’t take a B-12 supplement, you may be more at risk for a deficiency.

Vitamin B-12 may help to improve your energy levels, one of the proposed health claims for Hydroxycut. However, that is only if you are deficient.

According to the research, if you have normal vitamin B-12 levels, it’s unlikely that taking it in supplement form will provide any additional benefit.

Summary:

While all of the vitamins present in this complex are essential, some may not be present in sufficient amounts to produce weight loss. Additionally, many of these vitamins, such as the B-complex vitamins, we can get fairly easily from our diet.

2. Pro Clinical Hydroxycut Complex (640 mg)

This complex contains a Hydroxycut “Weight Loss Plus” blend of C. canephora robusta (Robusta coffee extract), apple cider vinegar, plum, baobab extract, and cardamom.

Robusta Coffee Extract:

There was a 2017 research review conducted on the role that Robusta coffee extract has on metabolism and weight. However, the proper dose and potential for side effects are not yet clear.

Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV):

There is much stirring in the media on apple cider vinegar (ACV) and weight loss.

A small 2018 randomized trial found those taking 30 ml per day of ACV had reduced body weight and BMI.

However, a more recent 2021 systematic review showed no such results.

Plum:

Plums are an anti-oxidant containing fruit that possesses multiple health-promoting properties.

A 2016 systematic review investigated the health benefits of plums; however, there was no conclusion specifically for their role in metabolism or weight loss.

Baobab Extract:

This ingredient has been shown to have the potential to reduce hunger levels in a small study.

Cardamom:

Cardamom is a spice that may support healthy digestion and metabolism. One 2017 rat study showed those rats taking cardamom powder had a lower risk of obesity.

Summary:

While some of these ingredients in this complex may play a role in metabolism, it is still unclear in what amounts. Additionally, larger human studies are needed.

3. Naturally Sourced Energy (204 mg)

This blend contains coffee extract with approximately 200 mg of caffeine in 2 capsules. The recommended dose is 4 capsules per day, which equals 400 mg of caffeine.

A 2019 systematic review demonstrated caffeine’s potential to increase metabolism and aid in weight loss. 

However, when combined with other forms of caffeine such as coffee or tea, this can lead to excess intake way above the recommended 300mg per day.

Summary:

While caffeine may support weight loss in some, stimulants don’t come without risks.

Verdict on Claimed Benefits

Below is our summary of the available evidence for the claimed benefits of Pro Clinical Hydroxycut based on the available research:

  • Increases energyLimited Evidence
  • Weight lossModerate Evidence
  • Burns caloriesNo Evidence

Side Effects, Safety, and Dosage

Overall, I feel Pro Clinical Hydroxycut’s safety profile has somewhat improved since ephedra was removed.

However, my biggest concern is that it is a stimulant-containing supplement and contains a high dose of caffeine. This is especially true for Hydroxycut Hardcore.

The most common side effects can come from green coffee extract and caffeine content.

The FDA suggests limiting caffeine to no more than 400 mg daily, the equivalent to 3 or 4 cups of coffee.

Both Pro Clinical Hydroxycut and Hydroxycut Hardcore contain at least 270 mg to 400 mg of caffeine in just one dose.

Taking Hydroxycut in addition to your regular coffee, tea, and soda intake can bring you well above the daily limit recommendation, which can pose harm.

According to a 2017 comprehensive research review, excess caffeine intake can result in increased anxiety, sleep disruptions, and increased blood pressure.

In addition, rapidly consuming 1200 mg of caffeine, as one may in a supplement form, can result in more serious adverse events such as arrhythmias, seizures, and even death.

Caffeine anhydrous present in Hydroxycut Hardcore also differs from natural forms of caffeine.

With this, you may react differently than how you normally would with consuming your morning cup of coffee.

For these reasons, we strongly recommend avoiding stimulant-containing products like Hydroxycut, as the risk may not be worth the potential benefits.

Always speak to your doctor before ingesting this supplement or similar products to ensure your safety.

Cost and Where to Buy

Hydroxycut is sold directly on the brand’s website and Walmart, Kroger, and Target. The cost is approximately $30 for a 30-day supply.

Prices are fairly similar across the board for all of these retailers.

The cost is reasonable; however, I still wouldn’t spend my money on this product given the lack of evidence.

There is a 30-day money-back guarantee if you purchase directly from the retailer’s website.

How Hydroxycut Compares to Alternatives

There are many weight loss supplements on the market. Hydroxycut remains the most popular brand out there.

Hydroxycut contains similar ingredients to other common weight loss products such as caffeine, coffee extract, vitamins, and herbal extracts.

The product that is probably most similar to Hydroxycut’s claims on the market is Alli

However, Alli is FDA-approved, while Hydroxycut is not. Alli’s intended purpose is to promote weight loss by decreasing fat absorption in your body.

Because of this, it can often cause unpleasant gastrointestinal side effects.

There are also single ingredients supplements purported to promote weight loss, such as glucomannan and garcinia cambogia.

While glucomannan is considered safe, there are not yet enough studies to prove it works.

A 2018 study showed potential for garcinia cambogia to support weight loss long-term in some. More research is needed on the proper dose that is safe and effective.

However, neither of these ingredients are present in Hydroxycut.

There is nothing groundbreaking about Hydroxycut other than a higher amount of caffeine.

The manufacturer does claim the energy and metabolism boost from the caffeine as being unique to Hydroxycut. However, if there is a metabolic boost, it may be short-lived.

I would not recommend any type of supplement for weight loss at this time, as more research is still needed.

The Bottom Line

I would not recommend taking Hydroxycut due to the lack of evidence and potential negative side effects of too much caffeine.

Only limited human studies have been done on Pro Clinical Hydroxycut and Hydroxycut Hardcore.

There are some animal studies on Hydroxycut, but it is unknown if these effects would translate in humans.

I would be particularly cautious if you have a history of high blood pressure or cardiovascular disease due to the high caffeine content.

Always consult with your medical provider before taking this supplement or any new supplement.

A Word from Our RD

As a Registered Dietitian, I would instead recommend establishing a healthy lifestyle regimen as a more effective way to lose weight.

If you are seeking a supplement to speed up your weight loss, I suggest speaking to your doctor before starting anything new.

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