Hydroxycut is a group of dietary supplements sold as weight loss aids.
The active ingredients in most Hydroxycut products are:
- Lady's mantle extract (Alchemilla vulgaris)
- Wild olive extract (Olea europaea)
- Komijn extract (Cuminum cyminum)
- Wild mint extract (Mentha longifolia)
Some Hydroxycut products contain a green coffee bean extract (Coffea canephora robusta).
Is Hydroxycut Effective?
There are a few studies that have shown that the key ingredients in most Hydroxycut products safely promote weight loss.
Most Hydroxycut products contain a blend of four herbal extracts -- komijn, lady's mantle, wild olive and wild mint -- that has been shown to be safe and effective as a weight loss aid in two studies.
A 2011 study, funded by Iovate, involved 69 people, half of whom took the blend over 8 weeks. They lost an average of 16.5 pounds compared to the average 2.12 pounds lost by people taking a placebo, according to the company. The study is considered proprietary, so it has not been published in a medical journal.
A 2010 study of a different diet supplement that contains the same extract blend found in Hydoxycut produced similar results. At the end of the 12-week study, the 16 participants who took Weighlevel lost an average of about 20 pounds compared to 1.7 pounds for the 13 participants who took a placebo. All participants stuck to a strict, three-meals-a-day diet. Researchers concluded that the four extracts in combination may help burn fat.
What About Hydroxycut Products that Contain Green Coffee Bean Extract?
Two studies have shown that the green coffee bean extract found in some Hydroxycut products promotes weight loss. Svetol, the green coffee extract used in Hydroxycut products, is found in Hydroxycut Hardcore, Hydroxycut Hardcore Elite, and Hydroxycut Acai.
In a study funded by Iovate in 2010, 45 participants took Svetol while 45 got a placebo. All 90 participants ate a reduced-calorie diet and performed moderate exercise over the eight weeks. The result: Those who took Svetol lost an average of 3.7 pounds, compared to 1.25 pounds for those who got a placebo, according to the company.
French researchers who took a look at Svetol's effect on weight loss found similar results: 30 of 50 study participants who took Svetol lost an average of 10.95 pounds over eight weeks. The 20 people who took a placebo lost 5.4 pounds on average. The results were published in Phytotherapie, a French journal, in 2006.
Is Hydroxycut Safe?
A few clinical studies have shown that the ingredients in Hydroxycut products are safe.
The FDA, however, does not evaluate dietary supplements -- also called nutraceuticals -- for safety or effectiveness. Instead, supplement makers are responsible for verifying any claims made about their products, documenting any adverse reactions to them, and reporting reactions that meet the FDA's definition of ''serious.''
In 2009, Hydoxycut maker Iovate Health Sciences voluntarily pulled its products from shelves over reports of liver problems, seizures, and rhabdomyolysis, a muscle-damaging condition. At the time, the main active ingredient in Hydroxycut was a fruit extract called hydroxycitric acid (HCA). The makers of Hydroxycut have since stopped using HCA in its formulas. However, the health concerns that sparked the recall were never directly tied to HCA. And HCA remains the active ingredient in several weight loss supplements currently available.
The warnings on Hydroxycut labels say the products should not be used by anyone under 18. Users are advised to seek medical attention if any "unusual symptoms" occur. The label does not specify what those symptoms could be or what side effects, if any, have been reported.
The label also advises users to consult a doctor before using Hydroxycut if they or a family member have ever been treated for or diagnosed with any medical condition.