Research Review: How Helpful Is Hydroxycut For Weight Loss?

Everything is in the mind. You become what you think. Whenever you get to hear this, you start thinking when did I imagine myself to fit into oversized clothes!

And then you think now I will start imagining myself to be thin but there seems no change.

So it definitely seems to be a better idea to pop some fat burning supplements! How about Hydroxycut?!

Hydroxycut is a brand of weight loss supplements produced originally by MuscleTech Research and Development which was later sold to Iovate Health Sciences.

The main weight loss ingredients in these supplements are green coffee extract and caffeine.

The site quotes a study ( Journal of publication is not mentioned)

Subjects using the key ingredient in Hydroxycut® (C. canephora robusta) for 60 days lost an average of 10.95 lbs. with a low-calorie diet, and 3.7 lbs. in a separate 8-week study with a calorie-reduced diet and moderate exercise.

We can’t comment much on the authenticity of these results since we don’t know about its origin.

So we thought of investigating different products under this brand and sharing the results with you.

Science on Hydroxycut’s core Ingredients

As we mentioned previously Hydroxycut has a number of dietary supplements.

The composition of most of them is kind of similar, the key ingredients being caffeine and green coffee extract.

We are going to investigate the ingredients of four such products:

  • Proclinical Hydroxycut
  • Hydroxycut Appetite Control
  • Hydroxycut Hardcore
  • Hydroxycut Hardcore Elite

Proclinical Hydroxycut

Proclinical Hydroxycut is the company’s general weight loss product meant for all.

Earlier it used to comprise of lady's mantle extract, wild olive extract, cumin extract, and wild mint extract.

However, a different formula is marketed now.

The claims as per the website are :

The recommended dose is initially 1 capsule twice a day followed by 2 capsules twice a day. Let's check the composition of the drug.

Robusta coffee extract

This component is identified as the key ingredient in most Hydroxycut products.

Robusta coffee is a coffee bean with high bitterness and is rich in caffeine and chlorogenic acid.

As per the supplement facts of HydroxyCut Pro Clinical, this extract has been standardized to 45% chlorogenic acid.

Chlorogenic acid is the main bioactive substance of green coffee bean (coffee beans that haven’t been roasted).

Animal study reveals that green coffee bean extract prevents fat accumulation and insulin resistance caused by high-fat diet.

Regular consumption of beverage enriched in chlorogenic acid for 4 weeks is found to increase metabolism and stimulate the burning of fats up to 3 hours after meal consumption.

A meta-analysis of clinical trials focussed on the effect of chlorogenic acid on body weight reveals that chlorogenic acid has a moderate effect on body weight.

What does this mean?
Green coffee extract is the key ingredient of HydroxyCut products and there is a great deal of scientific evidence to prove that it causes weight loss. If you want to know more check out our article: Evidence based Weight Loss Benefits of Green Coffee Bean Extract

Saffron extract

Saffron is a spice derived from flower Crocus sativus which has a reddish golden hue. It is used as a seasoning and coloring agent in food.

Its bioactive compounds-picrocrocin and safranal give it the pleasant taste and fragrance.

This spice has been studied for its application in depression and related disorders.

A study on humans demonstrated oral supplementation with Satireal- a novel saffron extract produced by a French company for 8 weeks reduces appetite, snacking and body weight.

What does this mean?
One research study demonstrates that saffron extract reduces appetite. Apart from that there is no significant scientific evidence to prove saffron’s role in obesity.


Caffeine is the major constituent of coffee and is a very popular weight loss agent.

It acts as an energy stimulant, prevents accumulation of fats and even controls appetite.

Caffeine stimulates the breakdown of fats by increasing the activity of our flight and fight hormones.  It also regulates the metabolism of fats.

High coffee consumers (3 or more cups a day) tend to have a lower BMI, waist circumference and better lipid profile than non-consumers.

The recommended dose for caffeine is 100-200mg each day and no more than 400 mg that is four cups of coffee per day.

Now as per supplement facts for Hydroxycut Pro clinical serving size of 2 capsules contains 200mg of caffeine which seems fine if that is the dose you consume each day.

Higher doses of caffeine can pose serious side effects like restlessness, anxiety, dizziness, headache, seizures etc. Also one tends to develop a tolerance to caffeine.

What does this mean?
Caffeine’s potential in reducing weight is well proven by research. However it works well only in limited doses: 100-200mg per day. More than that can cause nervousness, anxiety and gastrointestinal side effects.


Other ingredients

Hydroxycut Clinical Pro has a number of other ingredients which have not been clinically proven for weight loss, but they have their own merits.

For example, papaya and blackberry are good sources of fibers, antioxidants, and vitamins; but this applies to the fruits, so we can’t comment much about the extract.

Maqui berry is another rich source of antioxidants and is said to impact glucose metabolism favorably.

Amla or Indian gooseberry is a rich source of vitamin C and it is good for detoxification and improving digestive health.

Note on Hydroxycut Clinical Pro: A good background research of individual ingredients of this supplement reveals that the main components for causing weight loss are chlorogenic acids and caffeine. The other ingredients mentioned have no link with obesity treatment.

Hydroxycut Appetite Control

Hydroxycut Appetite control is a product designed with the aim to promote weight loss by reduced appetite and reduced calorie intake.

The claims are as follows:

  • Helps curb hunger for hours with added kelp fibre
  • Lose weight with green coffee
  • Great tasting smoothie mix

They recommend mixing 1 packet of the product in 11 oz cold water in a blender and drinking it with a meal for appetite control or 30 minutes prior to 2 large meals for weight loss.

Kelp fibre

Kelp is brown seaweed which contains an active ingredient, fucoxanthin. Fucoxanthin is known to burn fat and cause weight loss.

However, the kelp fibre used in Hydroxycut Appetite Control is different and goes with the name sodium alginate.

Back in 2010, researchers found a dietary fibre present in seaweed that can reduce the amount of fat absorbed by the body by 75%.

They recommended addition of this dietary fibre, alginate to foodstuffs like bread. This gel-like fibre swells in the stomach and reduces energy intake by promoting satiety.

A study conducted in 2012, reported that 15g of alginate fibre given prior to a low-calorie meal for 12 weeks caused greater weight loss than low-calorie meal alone.

Another study also shows that daily consumption of alginate prior meals brings about a 7% reduction in energy intake (134.8kcal).

I haven’t come across health concerns regarding kelp fibre but there are some studies which link thyroid function disruption with kelp supplementation.

What does this mean?
Research proves that kelp fibre- alginate is effective in controlling appetite and therefore leads to reduced calorie intake. So this validates the use of kelp fibre in Hydroxycut Appetite control.

Spinach extract-Appethyl

One of the arduous tasks our parents faced was to make us eat veggies, especially green leafy vegetables.

And now to make it worse researchers say that helps in treating obesity. All those who have seen Popeye- The Sailor man cartoon already know about spinach.

It is a green leafy vegetable rich in fibre, iron, vitamin, and minerals. Thylakoids are one of the components present in spinach that are said to interact with fats and delay fat digestion, thereby promoting satiety.

Researchers at Lund University have developed a novel spinach extract containing thylakoids which suppress cravings by 95% and increases weight loss by 43%.

The study showed that consuming 5g of this extract prior to breakfast for 12 weeks caused an average weight loss of 5 kg and significantly reduced urge to eat chocolate or sweet food.

What does this mean?
The spinach extract used in Hydroxycut Apettite Control is proven by research to curb cravings up to 95%. Also there are no health concerns associated with it till date.

Other ingredients

The other weight loss ingredient included in this formula is green coffee extract which we have covered previously.

Apart from that dietary fibre, sodium, calcium, and iron are also included in the formula but not specifically with the aim of promoting weight loss.

And a number of food additives are also present.

However dietary fibre is known for increasing satiety and improving digestion, which can have an indirect link on weight loss.

Calcium in dairy products plays a role in weight loss. To learn more about role of minerals in weight loss check out: How Minerals Play An Important Role in Weight Management?.

Note on Hydroxycut Appetite Control: The ingredients listed on HydroxyCut Appetite Control formula are proven by research to specifically promote satiety and control appetite. In addition it also has green coffee extract that aids in weight loss.

Hydroxycut Hardcore

Hydroxycut Hardcore comes under the ‘Powerful Weight loss’ products. These products have a higher dose of caffeine. The claims are as follows:

  • Designed for Hardcore weight loss
  • Delivers extreme energy and maximum intensity
  • Contains C. Canephora Robusta to Support Weight Loss
  • Fast acting energy

The dose starts with 1 capsule daily, to two capsules daily and finally two capsules twice daily. Best results obtainable within 60 days with diet and training.

Amino acids

This supplement contains the following amino acids: L-theanine, L-tyrosine, l-methionine l-leucine.

Amino acids are building blocks of proteins and high protein diet is known to burn fat and increase muscle mass.

There are not many specific studies to indicate a direct relationship between amino acid supplementation and weight loss.

Most of them indirectly lead to weight loss. Leucine controls glucose metabolism and in turn, can regulate weight gain from carbs.

L- methionine has not been proven to cause weight loss directly but can serve as a precursor to other weight loss promoting biological molecules.

L-theanine is a non-protein amino acid found in green tea and is said to promote weight loss.  Tyrosine has been used in a weight loss formulation and is found to cause an increase in metabolism and fat loss.

What does this mean?
The amino acids present in this supplement are not found to cause weight loss directly as per research.

Cayenne pepper

Cayenne or red pepper is an important spice that is used in cuisines of Southeast Asia, China, Southern Italy, and Mexico.

Its active ingredient, capsaicin has pain relieving properties. It is said to aid in obesity by suppressing appetite and increasing metabolism.

Addition of red pepper to diet is found to increase diet induced energy expenditure.   Two studies were conducted to evaluate the effect of red pepper on appetite and energy expenditure. In the first study, the effect of the addition of red pepper to breakfast and its effect on appetite was tested in females.

The addition of red pepper to the breakfast significantly decreased protein and fat intakes at lunch-time.

In the second study the effect of red pepper appetizer was studied in males which when consumed at lunchtime significantly reduced the energy intake and carbohydrate intakes during the rest of the lunch and in the snack served several hours later.

What does this mean?
Many studies have demonstrated that addition of red pepper to meals suppresses appetite, reduces calorie intake and increases energy expenditure. However these studies typically involve addition of red pepper to meals. Capsaicin is highly researched for its application in weight loss. This validates the use of cayenne pepper in the weight loss formula.


Yohimbe is the bioactive component of the bark of the Pausinystalia yohimbe tree in Central Africa.

It is used in the treatment of erectile dysfunction.

It activates a biological target alpha-2 (α2) adrenergic receptor which is implied to aid in weight management.  Yohimbe extract is said to mobilize and burn fats.

A 3-week clinical trial reported that yohimbe supplementation increases weight loss achieved by a low calorie diet.  Yohimbe supplementation for 21 days has been found to reduce body fat significantly.

Other researchers do not agree about the fat burning effects of yohimbe.

Also, a few studies report adverse events linked with yohimbe supplementation.

What does this mean?
There is not enough evidence available to support effect of yohimbe supplementation on body weight. A few health risks have been associated with it. Therefore I doubt yohimbe would have significant effect on body weight.

Other ingredients

The other two are key ingredients of Hydroxycut products- caffeine and green coffee extract.

The caffeine content is slightly elevated- 270 mg in this formula. Another new ingredient is trans-ferulic acid.

Trans-ferulic acid is a phytochemical found in asafoetida. It is said to be blessed with a number of pharmacological properties like antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial etc.

I am not really aware of its exact role in obesity but animal studies prove that it can ameliorate metabolic abnormalities linked to obesity.

Note on Hydroxycut Hardcore: The main ingredients that are strongly backed by science to cause weight loss are caffeine, green coffee extract and cayenne pepper.

The level of caffeine is 270 mg which is slightly on the higher side. Data on yohimbe’s role in weight loss is limited. Also the amino acid supplementation does not cause direct weight loss.

The key ingredients in this supplement can definitely cause weight loss but the higher amount of caffeine and presence of not so necessary ingredients makes the product seem a little overrated in terms of claims presented.

Hydroxycut Hardcore Elite

This seems to be a fortified version of Hydroxycut Hardcore.

The website states that this supplement is Supplements Award Winner. The claims include:

  • Super thermogenesis
  • Extreme energy
  • Enhanced focus
  • Powerful weight loss

The dose is kind of similar to Hydroxycut Hardcore. The ingredients in this blend are similar to those present in Hydroxycut Hardcore but there are two exceptions.

Coleus Forskohlii

Coleus forskohlii is a herb that is used in Ayurveda- traditional Indian medicine system.

Its active ingredient forskolin is said to cause weight loss by increasing the activity of a certain biological target that stimulates the breakdown of fats.

Two company sponsor studies have been conducted on forskolin supplements which didn’t seem to change body composition in females but had a favorable effect on men.

What does this mean?
The weight loss effect of forskolin has been proven in animal studies.   However its research on human studies is a little confusing to come to a conclusion of its efficacy in weight loss.

Cocoa extract

Another ingredient that is present only in HydroxyCut Hardcore Elite is cocoa.

This supplement makes use of cacao and in fact, it is the cocoa antioxidants that help in weight loss.

So if you are looking for chocolate as a weight loss tool make sure it is dark chocolate (70% cocoa).

Animal studies show that cocoa inhibits weight gain by suppressing the genes involved in fat metabolism and accumulation.

Few clinical trials show that consumption of dark chocolate reduces body fat and other study presents conflicting evidence: habitual chocolate consumption can lead to weight gain in the future.

However, analysis of available research leads to a conclusion that dark chocolate in moderate amounts leads to weight loss.

What does this mean?
The use of cocoa extract in this supplement is justified since a number of animal studies are available that confirm that cocoa antioxidants act as anti-obesity agents.

Other ingredients

Caffeine and green coffee extract are two strong ingredients that have been included in the supplement.

Yohimbe extract and l-theanine are also present. We have already covered their role in weight loss.

Note on HydroxyCut Hardcore Elite: This supplement has 3 main weight loss agents caffeine, green coffee extract and cocoa. Anti-obesity effect of yohimbe, l-theanine and forskolin is weakly proven by science.

The high dose of caffeine- 270mg is still of concern. And there are no such significantly different agents included in the formula that could cause ‘Super Thermogenesis’.

Health concerns linked with Hydroxycut

If you just type Hydroxycut on Pubmed you will get around 20 odd results and almost all of them report side effects of Hydroxycut:

Some studies are as recent as 2013 and 2015.  Before 2004, Hydroxycut supplements contained ephedra which is banned due to its serious health effects and a number of lawsuits were filed against MuscleTech.

By 2009 Hydroxycut became one of the most popular weight loss supplements in America but sadly a number of liver toxicity cases were attributed to the supplement.

On 1 May 2009, FDA issued a warning to consumers to stop consuming Hydroxycut products.

You can find the notice and list of products recalled here.

The products were totally revamped thereafter and the only ingredient from previous formulations that is used still is caffeine.

A case of liver toxicity due to Hydroxycut Hardcore was reported in 2013.


A good background research on the ingredients used in Hydroxycut products revealed that it contains a number of ingredients which don’t seem to help with weight loss and two major weight loss agents- caffeine and green coffee extract.

But what concerns us is the amount of caffeine present in the serving of 2 capsules will be quite high if you take two of them twice daily.

This is likely to cause nervous system problems. Also, you cannot ignore the history of liver toxicity associated with the products. If there was anyone product that seems to be safe then that is Hydroxycut Appetite Control.

Despite the presence of some good weight loss ingredients, we would not recommend Hydroxycut products due to the cases of liver injury linked with it.

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