Hydroxycut is a modern-day riches-to-rags(-to-riches-to-rags-to-riches) story. It’s been around for a long time and has always promised the same thing: rapid weight loss with little to no change to your everyday routine.
It’s been slapped with FDA warnings and reformulated. It’s been sold as pills, drink mixes, and even gummies. It’s been advertised to men, women, and athletes.
But with so many types of Hydroxycut available, you may be wondering: Does it actually work? And is it safe?
Here’s everything we know about Hydroxycut.
Hydroxycut is a popular weight loss supplement available as capsules, gummies, or drink mixes. If you remember the early 2000s, you definitely still have a Hydroxycut commercial or two locked away somewhere in your memory.
There are several types of Hydroxycut, each with a slightly different formula, presentation, and comically ambiguous name — Pro Clinical, Ultra Lean, Black, Max, Slay, Platinum, HD, Hardcore, Hardcore Elite, and Final Boss. (JK, we made up that last one. But you could hardly tell, right?)
The key ingredient is green coffee bean extract — er, Coffea canephora robusta. Green coffee bean extract contains high levels of chlorogenic acid, an antioxidant that, according to some research, could promote weight loss (in rats, anyway).
Most of Hydroxycut’s products also contain added caffeine, which can help you burn a little bit more fat.
Limited research suggests Hydroxycut’s two main ingredients — green coffee bean extract and caffeine — could help with weight loss. But more studies on humans are needed, since most research has been done on animals or very small groups of people.
In the 2006 clinical trial Hydroxycut shares on its website, the group that took green coffee bean extract for 60 days lost twice as much weight as the placebo group — 10 pounds versus the placebo group’s 5 pounds. And both groups were on the same “bland low-calorie diet.” Not bad, right?
Unfortunately, that example (and similar studies provided by Hydroxycut) need to be taken with a massive grain of salt, as they are company-funded and unpublished.
Translation: They contain a notable conflict of interest and are not verified by respected academic journals.
The evidence for caffeine and weight loss is slightly stronger. A 2019 review of high quality studies in humans found a fairly strong dose-dependent link between caffeine intake and body weight. But this review looked at only about 600 people, so it’s far from definitive.
It looks like these two compounds might have some potential to help with weight loss. But that’s in conjunction with a healthy diet and regular physical activity. Hydroxycut and a diet of round-the-clock pizza, doughnuts, and soda? Probably not gonna work.
Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide if you want a supplement to be part of your weight loss plan, but they’re far from necessary.
Hydroxycut doesn’t really have a great record. Since its 2002 inception, the company has had to reformulate its product twice.
The first reformulation came in 2004 because the product contained ephedra, the (admittedly effective) weight loss ingredient that had been linked to heart problems, strokes, and seizures. (NBD, right?)
The product was reformulated again in 2009 because it had been linked to more than 20 cases of liver failure, including one death.
It seems that the Hydroxycut products on the market today are safer than past versions, but they still contain many ingredients that haven’t been thoroughly scrutinized by the scientific community.
Because the active ingredient in most Hydroxycut products is caffeine, if you do choose to try it, you should be careful not to overdo it on other sources of caffeine. This includes coffee, tea, sodas, and energy drinks (to name a few).
Excessive caffeine intake can lead to high blood pressure, insomnia, headaches, and dizziness. In extreme cases, it can even cause heart problems, hallucinations, and convulsions.
It’s also important to remember that dietary supplements are mainly subject to post-market regulation, which means the FDA won’t get involved until after there’s a problem. And the FDA has limited resources to catch and address all concerns. Plus, there’s no guarantee that what’s on the supplement label is actually what’s in the bottle.
Some third-party organizations — like United States Pharmacopeia (USP), ConsumerLab, and NSF International — are filling this gap by providing independent verification and testing. But Hydroxycut hasn’t pursued any outside testing.
Our verdict: There are too many red flags to give Hydroxycut a thumbs-up.
Hydroxycut is typically taken in capsule form, but the company also sells gummies and drink mixes. There are several product lines available.
Here are some need-to-know facts about some of the most popular Hydroxycut products:
Hydroxycut gummies are considered caffeine-free — containing only a tiny amount of caffeine from the green coffee bean extract — and they double as a multivitamin.
Gummies are a great way to take a vitamin if big ol’ multivitamin horse pills make you gag, but it’s hard to say whether they’re as effective as regular Hydroxycut, which contains caffeine. Caffeine seems to be the ingredient with the biggest effect on weight loss.
Unfortunately, the first ingredient in these gummies is high fructose corn syrup, and — as vitamins go — they have a pretty hefty dose of sugar: 8 grams in one serving (3 gummies).
Hydroxycut also has a line of drink mixes, which contain the same active ingredients as the classic product: caffeine and green coffee bean extract.
They’re sugar-free, and they contain some electrolytes, which may help replenish the hydration you lose through sweat better than plain water does if you’re working out intensely or in a hot climate.
Hardcore and Hardcore Elite
Hardcore and Hardcore Elite, if you couldn’t tell from the holographic packaging and all the pictures of glistening, muscular people in workout gear on the product page, are meant for athletes.
Essentially, these products are Hydroxycut plus a pre-workout. As with most other Hydroxycut products, the key ingredients are caffeine and green coffee bean extract.
These products also contain L-theanine, which can increase alertness when paired with caffeine, and yohimbe extract, which might aid in fat loss and get the blood pumping — literally (it’s also used to treat erectile dysfunction).
Non-stimulant Hydroxycut products are mostly caffeine-free, with only trace amounts of caffeine from the green coffee bean extract.
But it’s hard to say whether the caffeine-free version is as effective as the full-strength stuff, since caffeine appears to be the most effective weight loss-promoting ingredient in Hydroxycut.
Max for Women
Hydroxycut Max is, mysteriously, the product line that’s formulated specifically for women.
In addition to the regular active ingredients, it contains folic acid, iron, biotin, and a “Radiance Complex” made from collagen, argan oil, and the amino acids cysteine and methionine.
Finally, the ingredients in the Radiance Complex may actually help you be more, well, radiant. Collagen and argan oil can improve the appearance of your skin, and cysteine and methionine are the building blocks of strong, healthy hair.
While we know caffeine is linked to weight loss, there isn’t much research to prove Hydroxycut can help you drop pounds, especially if it isn’t paired with a healthy diet and exercise.
It’s important to talk to a medical professional before starting any new supplement. Talk to your doc to get their take on this one and make the decision that’s best for your health.