Does Hydroxycut Work and Is It Safe to Take?

If you are frustrated by lack of results from dieting and exercising, you may be tempted to try a weight loss pill like Hydroxycut to help you shed the pounds. Made from a blend of caffeine and herbs -- plus green coffee extract in some formulations -- Hyrdroxycut is available over-the-counter at most drug stores and grocery stores. This product might help you boost your weight loss efforts, but before you take the plunge, consider the risks and benefits of the product. Pregnant or breastfeeding women, or people with any type of health condition should get permission from their doctors before taking Hydroxycut.

Some of the ingredients in Hydroxycut may help you lose weight. (Image: in.focus/iStock/Getty Images)

What Is Hydroxycut?

The makers of Hydroxycut have several weight loss products on the market, but their flagship product is Hydroxycut ProClinical. Caffeine, the primary ingredient in Hydroxycut ProClinical, is intended to boost your energy and metabolism, leading to weight loss.

There are also four herbs intended to aid with weight loss in Hydroxycut -- Lady's mantle extract, wild olive extract, komijn extract and wild mint extract. Other ingredients in the pills include various fruit extracts, vitamin C and calcium.

The Hydroxycut Hardcore product also contains Coffea canephora robusta, a green coffee extract believed to lead to weight loss by reducing the amount of sugar absorbed and used by the body. It also contains caffeine, yohimbine and cayenne pepper. Other products in the Hardcore line list a variety of herb- and root-derived ingredients, so check the label of any product before using it.

Does Hydroxycut Work?

While the makers of Hydroxycut claim that millions have lost weight using the product, there have not been any scientific studies done to prove its effectiveness. Some studies, however, have focused on individual ingredients in Hydroxycut.

The claim on the front of the Hydroxycut package that the pills are scientifically researched refers to one research study that was done on the key ingredient, C. canephora robusta, or green coffee extract. This study, available on the Hydroxcut website, found that supplementing with C. canephora robusta led to an 11-pound weight loss, on average, within 60 days when taken while following a low-calorie diet. However, this study has not yet been published in a scientific journal and has not been peer-reviewed. Other studies on green coffee extract have been less convincing. Green coffee extract may help lower blood pressure, but not body weight, according to one study published in Clinical and Experimental Hypertension in 2006.

Hydroxycut Ingredients May Boost Weight Loss

While Hydroxycut advertises C. canephora robusta as its main weight loss boosting component, caffeine is actually the most potent ingredient. Multiple studies have shown that caffeine can bump up your metabolism, helping your body burn more calories. One study published in 1989 in the "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition" found a significant increase in the number of calories burned when participants consumed caffeine throughout the day.

The blend of the four herbs may help you lose weight by increasing satiety and boosting your metabolism. A 2011 study published in Evidenced Based Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that when individuals consumed a regular diet and added these herbs, they lost an average of 2 pounds per week.

While some of the individual ingredients found in Hydroxycut may be helpful for weight loss, there is no scientific evidence to demonstrate the effectiveness of taking these ingredients together in a pill.

Is Hydroxycut Safe?

No reliable scientific studies have evaluated the safety of Hydroxycut. Over the 20-plus years Hydroxycut has been on the market, it has undergone several reformulations, mostly because of safety concerns. The original product contained ephedra, a substance banned in the U.S. in 2004. After ephedra was removed from Hydroxycut, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a warning in 2009 to stop using all Hydroxycut products after several reports of serious health problems. The following year, Hydroxycut returned to the market with a brand new, supposedly safer, formula. Even with the current formulation, several reports of negative health effects have been published. Among the reported side effects are liver toxicity, ulcerative colitis, inflammatory bowel disease and constriction of the cerebral arteries.

Hydroxycut may help you lose weight, but there may be risks to your health. Consult your physician before starting Hydroxycut or any weight loss supplement. If you're taking prescription medications, be sure to go over these carefully with your doctor or pharmacist because the caffeine in Hydroxycut may interact with certain drugs.

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