How to Use Hydroxycut Effectively

Despite what the commercials may lead you to believe, losing weight is not as simple as popping a pill. The Hydroxycut website suggests that to get desired results, you also need to make changes to your diet. Additionally, there's very little evidence that the main ingredient in Hydroxycut, green coffee extract, works as claimed. Consult your doctor before adding Hydroxycut or other weight-loss supplements to your diet regimen.

Woman taking a capsule. (Image: Eric Audras/ONOKY/Getty Images)

Take Hydroxycut as Directed

As with any supplement, Hydroxycut should be taken as directed according to the product label, which offers very clear instructions on how to start and increase your dose to the recommended two caplets twice a day. It's also recommended that you take it with a glass of water and drink eight to 10 glasses of water each day while taking the supplement. The label warns you to take no more than two caplets in a four-hour period and no more than four caplets a day. In addition, it shouldn't be taken within five hours of bedtime.

Each caplet contains 100 milligrams of caffeine, which may explain the guidelines. As a stimulant, caffeine can cause adverse effects including anxiety, rapid heartbeat, difficulty sleeping, nausea. Other ingredients include robusta coffee extract, also known as green coffee extract, papaya and saffron extract, as well as maqui and amla extracts, which come from fruits.

Change Your Diet to Lose Weight

Hydroxycut refers to a study that shows that the supplement promotes weight loss. The website notes that the study subjects followed a reduced-calorie diet. It's important to note, however, that the study does not mention the diet or the number of calories. Additionally, the study is not published anywhere but the Hydroxycut website.

Based on this information, for Hydroxycut to be effective you must make dietary changes to decrease your calorie intake. Weight loss requires a shift in your calorie equation so you're creating a negative calorie balance. If you make a 500-calorie deficit every day for a week, you'll lose 1 pound.

Effectiveness of Exercise

According to the study on Hydroxycut, the participants also engaged in moderate exercise. Adding exercise to your daily routine can tip your calorie equation farther into the negative to assist in your desired weight loss. If you're not active, start with moderate-intensity activity, such as a brisk walk, for 30 minutes five days a week. As your fitness level improves, you'll want to up the intensity and the duration to get the weight-loss benefits. Always consult your doctor first before starting any exercise program.

Considerations and Warnings

Although Hydroxycut claims its main ingredient -- green coffee extract -- promotes weight loss, it may not be as effective as claimed. A 2011 review study published in "Gastroenterology and Research" reports that while there seems to be some evidence that green coffee extract helps people lose weight, the amount is insignificant and according to the review authors, the methodology of the studies was of poor quality. There's not enough data to determine safety or an effective dose, and they concluded that more high-quality research needs to be performed to prove any claims about its effectiveness for weight loss.

Additionally, Hydroxycut is a source of caffeine, and based on the recommended daily dose of four caplets per day you'd be getting 400 milligrams of caffeine a day from the diet supplement. MedlinePlus reports that a moderate amount of caffeine, -- 400 milligrams a day -- is safe for most people. But if you're drinking coffee or energy drinks in addition to the Hydroxycut, you may be consuming an excessive amount. Signs of caffeine overdose include difficulty breathing, confusion, convulsions, hallucinations and increased thirst and urination. For your health and safety, abstain from getting any other sources of caffeine from food or drinks while taking Hydroxycut.

Due to the caffeine and limited information on green coffee extract, you should not take Hydroxycut if you're pregnant or nursing. If you suffer from anxiety, have problems sleeping, high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat or acid reflux, the caffeine in the supplement may exacerbate your condition and should be limited or avoided, according to MedlinePlus.

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