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Hydroxycut Review: Is It Safe for Weight Loss?

Written by Melissa Mitri, MS, RD

Published on December 21, 2020

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. The main type of Hydroxycut, or “Pro Clinical” Hydroxycut, contains ingredients that have not been extensively studied for safety or effectiveness, therefore I would not recommend taking Hydroxycut products because of this.

Hydroxycut Review: Is It Safe 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.

For this review, I will be primarily discussing the main type of Hydroxycut, called 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 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 I’m 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.

There is not much evidence on the efficacy of most of the ingredients present. For example, there is only one study I could find on l-theanine, one of the amino acids.

This study was small in size and was conducted on animals, not humans.

Evaluation of Ingredients

Pro Clinical Hydroxycut contains 3 main ingredient blends:

1. Vitamin Blend - Vitamin D and B-Complex

Pro Clinical Hydroxycut contains a blend of vitamin D and several B-vitamins - including thiamine, niacin, riboflavin, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12.

Vitamin D is involved in supporting a healthy metabolism. B-vitamins may help improve energy levels and support brain health.

2. Pro Clinical Hydroxycut Complex

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

There is some research being done on the role that Robusta coffee extract has on metabolism and weight. However, the proper dose and potential for side effects is not yet clear.

While there is much stir in the media on apple cider vinegar and weight loss, it really doesn’t lend true to the research.

Baobab extract has been shown to have the potential to reduce hunger levels in a small study.

3. Naturally Sourced Energy

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

Some studies show caffeine’s potential to increase metabolism in the short-term.

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.

Excess caffeine intake may increase your blood pressure and heart rate to an unhealthy level.

Verdict on Claimed Benefits

Here is our summary of the available support for the claimed benefits of Hydroxycut, based on the available studies:

  • Burns caloriesNo Support
  • Weight lossSome Support
  • Provides sustainable energyNo Support

Side Effects, Safety, and Dosage

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

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

My biggest concern is that it still contains a high dose of caffeine.

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

Especially in sensitive people, excess caffeine intake can lead to increased anxiety, sleep disruptions, and increased blood pressure.

There have also been several cases of colitis in those taking Hydroxycut. Some have also experienced rhabdomyolysis, a breakdown of muscle that can cause organ damage.

I would also be especially hesitant to recommend Hydroxycut Hardcore as it contains an even higher dose of caffeine than the regular Hydroxycut.

Cost

Hydroxycut is sold directly on the retailer’s website, Walmart, Kroger, or 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.

Comparison 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.

There is not anything groundbreaking about Hydroxycut, other than a higher amount of caffeine.

The manufacturers do promote 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.

The Bottom Line

I would not recommend taking this product 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 or Hydroxycut Hardcore.

There are some animal studies on regular 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.

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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