Does Hydroxycut Work and Is It Safe to Take?

As one of the most ubiquitous weight loss supplements, Hydroxycut claims to help you lose weight fast. However, even though the manufacturer touts Hydroxycut's body-slendering abilities through commercials, paid advertisements and celebrity endorsements, the manufacturer has caused harm to users.

Some of the ingredients in Hydroxycut may help you lose weight. (Image: Moussa81/iStock/GettyImages)

Tip

No scientific evidence supports the effectiveness of Hydroxycut, and the product can do more harm than good.

Hydroxycut’s Dangerous Past Formulations

Marketed under both Hydroxycut and Hidroxicut GNC, the formulations for this product come with a checkered past. Before 2004, Hydroxycut contained ephedra. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) banned the sale of dietary supplements containing ephedra, as it found significant side effects of this ingredient in more than 16,000 reports.

Such hazardous effects included cardiovascular events, seizures, dizziness, nausea and psychosis. In addition, combining ephedra with caffeine, as Hydroxycut did, elevated the possibility of even more serious side effects, including death. In fact, in 2004, ephedra-related deaths numbered 155, according to a March 2004 statement from Harvard Health.

In early 2009, Consumer Reports informed the public that the FDA recalled Hydroxycut after discovering the product contained substances that could harm the liver, cause seizures and create a muscle-damaging condition called rhabdomyolysis. The FDA noted 23 significant health issues in users and at least one death related to Hydroxycut, and they asked everyone to destroy all Hydroxycut products in their possession.

Read more: 10 of the Most Common Weight-Loss Mistakes

Hydroxycut in 2019

According to Reuters Health, shortly after recalling all Hydroxycut products, the manufacturer re-created the product later in 2009 and placed Hydroxycut back on the market with all new ingredients except caffeine, which is found in both the old and new formulations. As of 2019, weight loss supplement shoppers will find Hydroxycut available in capsules, drink mixes and gummy candies. The company offers several different types of products, including:

  • Pro Clinical Hydroxycut
  • Pro Clinical Hydroxycut Non-Stimulant
  • Hydroxycut Ultra Lean
  • Slay by Hydroxycut
  • Hydroxycut Hardcore Elite Sport
  • Hydroxycut Hardcore CLA Elite
  • Hydroxycut Max! for Women

Does Hydroxycut Work?

The current Hydroxycut formulation includes the following, allowing you to make your own decision on whether Hydroxycut would work for you:

  • Caffeine. Per the NIH, safety concerns aren't high when you consume caffeine in doses of 400 to 500 milligrams per day. But you will find significant concerns at higher doses. If you drink coffee and other caffeinated beverages, the addition of Hydroxycut can cause health complications. In addition, the NIH states that caffeine offers nothing more than a modest effect on body weight and decreased weight gain over time.
  • Lady's mantle extract (Alchemilla vulgaris). Used traditionally as a topical treatment for wounds, clinical studies lack support for its use in anything health related.
  • Wild olive extract (Olea europaea). In a peer-reviewed study featured in the June 2017 issue of the European Journal of Nutrition, researchers studied 60 pre-hypertensive males who consumed either oleuropein (the active property in olive extract) or an oleuropein-free control group daily for six weeks. They did find that the olive leaf extract successfully lowered blood pressure, but made no mention of weight loss. In addition, most studies on wild olive extract involve lab animals. More human-based studies are needed to make an educated hypothesis on wild olive extract's benefits.
  • Cumin extract (Cuminum cyminum). In a literature review published in the January 2018 issue of the journal Food Quality and Safety, researchers found that investigations on cumin support its use as a conventional drug in respiratory issues, allergic rhinitis, diabetes mellitus, inflammatory diseases and cancer. However, they made no mention of cumin's ability to combat weight gain.
  • Wild mint extract (Mentha longifolia). In a review published in the October-December 2013 issue of the Ancient Science of Life, researchers note Menthe longifolia is a popular folk remedy for gastrointestinal issues, but they state further studies are needed to determine the quality and safety of the plant.

Is Hydroxycut Safe?

According to the NIH, the FDA does regulate dietary supplements, including those marketed as weight loss aids. However, unlike drugs, dietary supplements don't require any reviews before going to market or FDA approval.

This means that manufacturers don't need to prove their products are safe for consumption before selling them. Based on the ingredient's peer-reviewed evidence and the non-necessity to demonstrate safety and efficacy, you must consider what is known about Hydroxycut before deciding whether to add this supplement to your diet.

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