Hydroxycut for Weight Loss

Supplement Ingredients, Potential Benefits, and Risks

Frustration with lack of weight-loss results from diets and exercise programs often motivates people to consider using dietary supplements that promise weight loss, like Hydroxycut.

Hydroxycut sellers claim you can lose almost 11 pounds in 60 days with the supplement, if it is combined with a low-calorie diet. If you add a moderate exercise program, you should be able to lose another 4 pounds in those eight weeks.

Hydroxycut has impressive marketing to sell their weight loss products. It claims to be the number one weight loss supplement brand for over 20 years.

According to Hydroxycut's website, it has sold more than 100 million bottles, and its product is backed by science. The brand makes some amazing claims, but that doesn’t mean they are all valid.  

The supplement is sold online or over the counter at drug or grocery stores. Before deciding to use Hydroxycut or any weight loss supplement, it's important to understand the product, ingredients, potential benefits, and risks. It is also important to run it by your physician before beginning. Some formations have added ingredients that could be problematic for people, especially if they have a pre-existing medical condition

What Is Hydroxycut?

Hydroxycut is a registered trademark brand for many products marketed for weight loss. Each product has a different blend of ingredients. Most ingredients are advertised for weight loss, yet not backed by research showing true effectiveness, says Melissa Majumdar, MS, RD, CSOWM, LDN, an Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics spokesperson.

Most supplements, including Hydroxycut, contain herbal and proprietary blends for enhanced weight loss. "Proprietary blends" is a fancy way to market combined ingredients, but is not entirely accurate.

If a label lists a proprietary blend, the company doesn’t have to break down the specific amount of each ingredient. So, you really don’t know what you’re getting with these combination weight loss products.

Also, some formulations of Hydroxycut contain added ingredients such as B-vitamins, vitamin D, titanium dioxide, wax, dyes, etc . It is important for consumers to read the nutrition facts as well as the ingredients.

Some individual ingredients, like caffeine, show a possible benefit for weight loss in reputable research studies. Studies indicate that most ingredients work better individually, not combined in a proprietary blend where the dose remains unknown.

If you are considering Hydroxycut, keep in mind that not all of its ingredients have been researched for weight loss effectiveness.

Hydroxycut promotes several types of weight loss products, including premium, organic, non-stimulant, and sports enhancement. They are also available in pills, capsules, shakes, and even chewable gummies.

How Does It Claim to Work?

Hydroxycut claims it can help people lose two times as much weight than diet and exercise alone. The brand indicates that key weight loss ingredients, including a coffee extract called C. canephora robusta, help achieve these results. 

The primary active ingredient in Hydroxycut is caffeine. While caffeine is known to increase resting metabolic rate by 7% to 15% over four hours, says Majumdar, this may or may not contribute to weight loss. 

Some people are also sensitive to caffeine and experience jitteriness, anxiety, nausea, and insomnia. Those who consume caffeine regularly can build a tolerance to the ingredient and experience no benefit.

Another active ingredient in Hydroxycut is garcinia cambogia, a plant extract containing hydroxycitric acid (HCA). Although research has been conducted on potential benefits HCA may have on appetite, it has not been shown to help with weight loss, says Majumdar.

Does Hydroxycut Work?

There are no human studies showing the effectiveness of Hydroxycut, according to Majumdar. The Hydroxycut website mentions a small research study on coffee extract and its potential effect on weight loss. The study included 50 individuals who did lose weight using coffee extract on a bland low-calorie diet. However, this study has not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal.

The National Institutes of Health's Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS) indicates that garcinia cambogia has little to no effect on body weight and has some safety concerns, says Majumdar.

The bottom line is more studies are needed to show the effectiveness and safety of the individual ingredients listed in Hydroxycut for weight loss.

Hydroxycut Ingredients 

Hydroxycut produces several weight loss supplements with varying ingredients, says Majumdar. Most of them contain caffeine, herbs, and other proprietary blends. Other ingredients found in Hydroxycut include:

  • Chromium
  • Potassium
  • Magnesium
  • Garcinia cambogia
  • Gymnema sylvestre extract (leaf)
  • Phosphatidylserine-enriched soy lecithin
  • Yohimbine
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Hydroxy tea (green tea extract, white tea extract, oolong tea extract, ginger extract, raspberry ketone, quercetin dihydrate)
  • Lady’s mantle leaf extract (Alchemilla vulgaris)
  • Olive leaf extract (Olea europaea)
  • Komijn (Cumin seed) extract (Cuminum cyminum)
  • Mint leaf extract (Mentha longifolia)
  • Acerola fruit concentrate
  • Goji fruit extract
  • Blueberry fruit extract
  • Pomegranate fruit and seed extract
  • Bilberry fruit extract

Hydroxycut, taken daily in amounts recommended by the label, contains 400 milligrams of caffeine. The average recommended intake for caffeine is 168 to 280 milligrams per day, says Majumdar. The FDA states that up to 400 mg per day is safe for most people.

Hydroxycut was originally formulated using ephedra, a powerful stimulant, as a key ingredient. Ephedra was banned by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2004 because it caused serious side effects. Hydroxycut had to be reformulated before being placed back on the market as a weight loss supplement.

However, there are still concerns about some Hydroxycut ingredients, such as yohimbine—a drug that is not considered safe in some parts of Europe. The drug was used in the U.S. for the treatment of erectile dysfunction, although it is prescribed far less often due to the popularity of Viagra. Yohimbine has been linked to side effects including a dangerous rise in blood pressure, as well as mood changes, anxiety, and other side effects.

Is Hydroxycut Safe?

Supplements including Hydroxycut are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). However, there are times when the FDA reviews supplements if public health issues are a concern.

Several supplements, including Hydroxycut, have been associated with serious health conditions, including a few deaths. Hydroxycut was voluntarily recalled from the market in May 2009 due to hepatic toxicity (liver poisoning). Hydroxycut was subsequently reformulated and remarketed, says Majumdar. 

What We Know

Hydroxycut is not currently considered to be a safe supplement. It has been indicated as a contributing factor in several health conditions, including rhabdomyolysis, hepatic toxicity, seizures, cardiovascular issues, and others.

At this time, it’s not well understood which of the Hydroxycut ingredients are problematic and if there is a dose-response effect to Hydroxycut.

Garcinia cambogia is associated with negative side effects, including headache, nausea, upper respiratory tract symptoms, gastrointestinal symptoms, mania, and liver damage, according to Majumdar.

A case report published in Hospital Pharmacy described an 18-year-old female with no significant past medical history who presented with life-threatening ventricular arrhythmia (abnormal heartbeat) following about 10 days of using Hydroxycut Gummies.

The Journal of Medical Case Reports published a case involving a 65-year-old woman who developed reversible cerebral vasoconstriction syndrome (RCVS) two weeks after beginning to take Hydroxycut. RCVS is a syndrome characterized by narrowing of the cerebral arteries causing severe headache and neurologic problems.

A case report published in the Journal of Military Medicine noted that three U.S. Army soldiers developed exertional rhabdomyolysis after using Hydroxycut. Exertional or exercise-induced rhabdomyolysis is the breakdown of muscle from extreme physical exertion.

In general, determining the safety of supplements is difficult because they are not regulated by the FDA like food and drugs. That means the safety and quality of the supplement are not regulated, nor are the ingredients checked for consistency with the supplements facts label, says Majumdar. 

Should You Take Hydroxycut?

Majumdar strongly recommends against using Hydroxycut. With changes in nutrition, physical activity, and behavior modification, people can lose weight without taking supplements. Guidance from a registered dietitian (RD) is also helpful. Some RDs have advanced training and experience in weight loss.

For example, a registered dietitian credentialed as a Certified Specialist in Obesity and Weight Management (CSOWM) may be a consideration if you struggle with weight loss, suggests Majumdar.

Depending on their weight and other health conditions, some people may also qualify for FDA-approved weight loss medication, says Majumdar. These would be prescribed by a physician specializing in weight loss and include:

A Word From Verywell

Hydroxycut is a popular weight loss supplement but not necessarily the best option for your health. According to weight management experts, there are better ways to lose weight.

Learning how to eat differently, exercise, and change your lifestyle are safe and effective ways to lose weight. You may want to consider getting help from a clinician or registered dietitian specializing in weight loss. Losing weight can be a great goal to help improve your health, but it's important to do it safely and stay healthy through the process. 

16 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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Additional Reading

By Darla Leal
Darla Leal is a Master Fitness Trainer, freelance writer, and the creator of Stay Healthy Fitness, where she embraces a "fit-over-55" lifestyle.