The Pros & Cons of Hydroxycut

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Hydroxycut is an over-the-counter weight loss aid that claims to curb your appetite and speed up your metabolism. In 2009 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ordered a recall of 14 different Hydroxycut products because they were associated with a number of serious liver complications. In 2010 Hydroxycut reformulated their products and released four new items that do not contain ephedra, the ingredient linked to liver problems.

Products

There are four Hydroxycut products on the market: Hydroxycut Weight Loss Formula, Hydroxycut 24 and Hydroxycut Caffeine-Free, which are made by Iovate Health Sciences Research, and a very different type of product made by Muscletech called Hydroxycut Hardcore. Hyroxycut Hardcore is specifically aimed at the bodybuilding community and claims to help you lose weight to "reveal the muscle cuts and definition beneath the surface." The Iovate products are marketed to the general public as weight-loss aids. All products are meant to be used in conjunction with a low-calorie diet and exercise.

Pros

The reformulated Hydroxycut products are not associated with liver damage or the health problems of earlier versions. Hydroxycut encourages you to follow a balanced low-calorie diet and be physically active in addition to taking their product. Iovate even provides recipes and exercise suggestions. Hydroxycut is easy to use -- simply take the pill about 30 minutes before eating with a glass of water. Instant drink packets are also available; simply add them to your bottled water. Hydroxycut is sugar-free and contains less than 5 calories per serving. A caffeine-free version of the product is available.

Cons

Although Hydroxycut may help you lose more weight than dieting and exercising alone, you must still be active and follow a reduced-calorie diet to see results. Because Hydroxycut is considered a supplement, not a medication, the FDA has not evaluated the claims made by Iovate nor the research supporting those claims. Possible side effects include insomnia, shakiness, nervousness, increased urination and indigestion or heartburn. There can be drug interactions with certain antibiotics, diabetes medications, asthma medications and antidepressants.

Conclusion

Talk to your doctor before starting to use any Hydroxycut product. They do contain stimulants, minerals and electrolytes such as potassium and calcium, which may not be appropriate for people with compromised kidney or liver function. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should not use these products. It's tempting to believe the marketing claims of products that promise wight loss seven times faster than diet and exercise alone, but the National Institutes of Health warns that a "fad diet is one that makes unrealistic promises" and that sustainable weight loss comes from making healthy lifestyle changes.

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