Hydroxycut is one of the most popular weight loss supplements in the U.S., selling over 100 million bottles.
In this article we’ll review the formulation of some of Hydroxycut’s most popular products based on medical research to determine if it’s safe and likely to be effective for weight loss. We’ll also highlight some concerning side effects found in research studies.
Liver Toxicity Reports
There is a concerning amount of research on acute liver injury associated with Hydroxycut use. A medical review from 2008 highlighted two case reports of patients who developed hepatitis shortly after taking Hydroxycut. Hepatitis is a serious medical condition where the liver becomes inflamed, and can lead to long-term consequences if not treated rapidly.
The review couldn’t definitively conclude that the hepatitis was caused by Hydroxycut, because the patients could have just happened to get sick right after taking it, but we find that to be unlikely.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) which regulates supplements in the U.S. published a Health Hazard Evaluation of the supplement, concluding that “it is very likely that exposure to Hydroxycut can cause idiosyncratic hepatotoxicity”. In layman’s terms, that means that the supplement can harm the liver.
A more recent case report from a medical journal detailed a 22 year old woman who experienced acute liver injury due to Hydroxycut use. The patient was successfully treated and discharged, but the study authors noted the risks of Hydroxycut use, and even described the standard symptom duration of what they called “Hydroxycut-induced liver injury”, meaning there’s a medical standard for these side effects which is concerning.
Does Hydroxycut Work?
There is no clinical evidence that Hydroxycut is effective for weight loss. That means there have been no studies on the supplement proving it works for weight loss.
We will review the formulation of their most popular product Pro Clinical Hydroxycut to determine if it’s likely to be effective based on the ingredients it contains.
The first section of the formulation, shown above, is just a vitamin and mineral blend. As we detailed in our Meticore review of a separate weight loss supplement brand, there is no clinical proof that random blends of vitamins and minerals are effective for weight loss. Manufacturers usually add them without explanation to fill out their Supplement Facts label, which appears to be the case here.
The rest of the formulation, shown above, is a proprietary (prop) blend totalling 604 milligrams (mg), with three main active ingredients: robusta coffee extract 200 mg, apple cider vinegar 100 mg, and 204 mg of a different type of coffee extract.
Robusta coffee extract may be effective for weight loss based on medical research, but there isn’t enough research to conclude one way or another, as the linked review states. A more recent review concluded that it should be effective.
We haven’t seen any research suggesting that apple cider vinegar at 100 mg is likely to aid in weight loss efforts. This is a very low dose, 5x lower than Goli gummies which we already reviewed and concluded to be underdosed and ineffective.
204 mg coffee extract may aid in weight loss efforts as we discussed in the previous section. We find it strange that Hydroxycut lists these two active ingredients separately on the label, when robusta coffee extract is just a specific type of coffee extract.
The remaining three ingredients in this prop blend are plum, baobab extract and cardamom. These ingredients only total 100 mg, or 33 mg per ingredient on average, which is a very low dose. We believe this dosage is so low as to make each of these ingredients totally worthless.
As an example to illustrate our point, a medical study on baobab extract tested its effects on blood sugar response. They used a “low dose” of 18.5 grams (g). 18.5 g = 18,500 mg. This means there was over 500 times more baobab used in this “low dose” study than there likely is in Hydroxycut.
Unethical supplement manufacturers will often add a very small amount of exotic ingredients to their formulations hidden in a prop blend, so that their Supplement Facts panel looks more impressive. That appears to be the case here.
We don’t believe that Hydroxycut is likely to work, because there is limited research on the effectiveness of one of its ingredients (coffee extract) for weight loss. All of the other ingredients appear to be significantly underdosed.
Hydroxycut Gummies Review
Hydroxycut also sells a gummy product with similar claims to their Pro Clinical product which we just reviewed.
The bulk of this formulation is an even larger random blend of vitamins and minerals. Hydroxycut provides no information about why they chose these nutrients and why they chose the dosages, so we can assume this blend will be ineffective for weight loss.
The only active botanical ingredient in this product is the robusta coffee extract at the same dosage as in Pro Clinical. This ingredient may be effective for weight loss, but there isn’t enough clinical data to definitively say so.
This product also contains 5 g of added sugar, mostly in the form of corn syrup. We know that added sugar in excess is unhealthy and obesogenic based on medical data (it’s one of the few things essentially all doctors agree on), so we question why a weight loss product would contain added sugar.
Overall we find Hydroxycut gummies to be a poor formulation, and don't recommend the product.
We recommend that consumers curious about robusta coffee extract talk to their doctors about taking it in isolation, because it’s the only potentially effective ingredient in this formulation. Taking it with a random blend of vitamins and minerals and added sugars doesn’t add any clinical benefit.
Hydroxycut Side Effects
Other than the rare but significant adverse effects on the liver that we outlined earlier in the article, Hydroxycut may cause side effects due to its stimulatory ingredients.
Pro Clinical Hydroxycut contains 200 mg of caffeine. While this is a safe dose for healthy adults, it may be dangerous for patients with high blood pressure or cardiovascular issues. We find it unacceptable that Hydroxycut doesn’t contain a warning on their product page that users should speak with their doctor prior to taking the product.
We also ethically disagree with the page on their site titled “Is Hydroxycut Safe?” which concludes that the product is safe to use by healthy adults.
This is untrue based on the liver toxicity reports. Several of the patients who experienced liver injury were previously healthy as detailed in the FDA report.
This is incredibly deceptive and dangerous marketing. The company is certainly aware of these reports, and isn’t even mentioning the risk on a page dedicated to risk. This alone should make any health-conscious consumer steer far clear from Hydroxycut.
Also, how can they definitively claim that their product is safe for healthy adults when it’s never been tested in a clinical setting for toxicity or long-term safety?