Hydroxycut is a well known supplement brand available across Canada and the USA and considered a household name. In the UK buyers can even get Hydroxycut products from Asda. Many Watchdog readers from both sides of the pond have contacted us for information on Hydroxycut supplements so is this brand worth a try?
We take an in-depth look at Hydroxycut to find out.
Hydroxycut has had a chequered history. This brand name for a range of supplements that originally came from Canadian based company Muscle Tech was aimed at the bodybuilding end of the weight loss market. It launched in the late 1990s, fast becoming one of the USA’s best known supplement brands.
One of the principle ingredients of original Hydroxycut formulations was Hydroxycitric acid – a natural chemical similar to citric acid and present in the fruit Garcinia Cambogia. The claims for Hydroxycitric acid have largely been disproven, but it is still believed by many to help weight loss.
However, the major health issue with original Hydroxycut was that it contained ephedra – a plant extract that contains natural stimulants closely related to amphetamines – the most common being ephedrine and pseudoephedrine.
Although ephedra was popular with customers looking to increase work outs and experience a speedy buzz, this ingredient is extremely dangerous. Ephedra increases heart rate and blood pressure and at least 15 people died following taking ephedra based products. There were reports of people having seizures and heart attacks following taking Hydroxycut, and in 2004 all supplements containing ephedra were banned by the FDA.
Following the ban on ephedra, Hydroxycut products were recalled but by then as one of the USA’s biggest selling weight loss supplements, there were hundreds of court cases and claims for damages against the company. This costly litigation led to Muscle Tech going bankrupt in 2005.
Hydroxycut and Muscle Tech were subsequently bought out by major company Iovate Health Sciences during bankruptcy. Iovate have kept the Hydroxycut/Muscle Tech brand names.
You would think that this past history would have been enough to make Iovate Health Sciences extremely careful with supplement safety but this was not the case.
Although Hydroxycut was reformulated and no longer contained ephedra, in 2009 the FDA issued another warning to consumers to avoid Hydroxycut products. This time it was because high levels of Hydroxycitric acid and many other ingredients were seen to cause liver damage. There were 23 reports of serious damage and one death associated with Hydroxycut and Iovate Health Sciences agreed to withdraw the products from the market.
Again the Hydroxycut supplements were reformulated.
You would think with all the bad press and the health problems associated with the Hydroxycut name over the last few decades, people would avoid it. This is not the case. Hydroxycut looks bigger than ever and does not appear to have considered the safety aspect of the supplements.
In the USA, this does not seem to matter to customers.
The USA website claims that Hydroxycut is America’s Number #1 weight loss supplement brand. At the time of writing there are 18 different Hydroxycut supplements on sale from major stores including Walmart, Amazon, the Vitamin Shoppe and GNC.
We have covered many of these supplements in our reviews including; Hydroxycut Hardcore Elite
and Hydroxycut SX7.
In the USA, many Hydroxycut supplements still contain potentially dangerous and unproven ingredients such as the stimulant Yohimbine which is linked to causing strokes and seizures. There are unproven and untested herbal ingredients such as high levels of nutmeg – known for causing dizziness, nausea and poisoning and Lady’s Mantle which lacks any clinical evidence it will help weight loss.
Most Hydroxycut supplements are extremely high in caffeine so are known for providing a strong stimulant effect.
Despite these health risks, the Hydroxycut website states,
Thank you, America, for making Hydroxycut® America’s #1 Selling Weight Loss Supplement Brand! Millions from coast to coast have chosen Hydroxycut® to help them reach their weight loss goals. Science, Quality and Purity have been the focus for Hydroxycut® for the past 20 years.
They obviously do not mention the lawsuits, the dangerous ingredients and the deaths.
Hydroxycut is also available in the UK. Although the brand has previously been available from specialist supplement retailers importing from the USA, these days with a UK specific website and products on the shelves of supermarket chain Asda, Hydroxycut is looking a lot more mainstream.
Hydroxycut in the UK is not the same as Hydroxycut USA. The stripped down product range means there are only two Hydroxycut products directly on sale in the UK. These are Hydroxycut Advanced and the associated product Hydroxycut Advanced Instant Drink Mix.
In addition, Hydroxycut Advanced is not on sale in the USA and in truth it does look very different from the US Hydroxycut supplements many of which are focused on stimulants and fat burning. Hydroxycut Advanced contains only caffeine as its stimulant ingredient and instead is based on glucomannan as the principle ingredient.
Glucomannan is a natural sugar made from the root of a plant called the Konjac. It is used as a thickener in some foods but these days this natural fibre is being widely used as a weight loss aid. Glucomannan swells up on contact with water and the idea is that this bulky fibre swells in the stomach and makes the user feel fuller. It is effective for constipation and as a treatment for diabetes and evidence suggests that it reduces cholesterol levels.
The European Food Standards Agency (EFSA) have investigated Glucomannan as a weight loss aid and found that it has a “statistically significant effect on body weight loss” when eaten before meals.
The study concluded,
On the basis of the data presented, the Panel concludes that a cause and effect relationship has been established between the consumption of Glucomannan and the reduction of body weight in the context of an energy-restricted diet.
According to the study,
At least 3 g of Glucomannan should be consumed daily in three doses of at least 1 g each, together with 1-2 glasses of water before meals, in the context of an energy-restricted diet. The target population is overweight adults.
Hydroxycut Advanced contains 1g of Glucomannan per serving and you are advised to take it 3 x times a day so this supplement is in line with current research.
You may find that this supplement does help you restrict your appetite and this supplement may actually help you lose weight if you take it long term. Glucomannan is regarded as a safe ingredient but it does come with some risks. You need to ensure that you take Glucomannan with plenty of water in order to wash it down to your stomach where it can safely expand. There have been cases of Glucomannan expanding in the throat and causing choking. This is not mentioned in the product information, although you are advised to take it with 1 -2 glasses of water.
The key features are that Hydroxycut Advanced:
The “alertness “part of the formula is down to the caffeine. Each serving contains 180mg of caffeine – the equivalent of two cups of coffee.
Although this will suit some users, it is important to remember that taking Advanced as recommended will deliver the equivalent caffeine of around 6 cups of coffee. This adds up to a whopping 540mg daily which is in excess of health recommendations to take no more than 400mg of caffeine each day.
We would have liked to have seen some health advice on the Hydroxycut website or packaging but this information is not available. However we think that Hydroxycut Advanced may actually work for some users. That is as long as they remember to drink it with plenty of water to avoid the choking risk and can handle the caffeine.
Hydroxycut remains well known in the supplements world and although UK customers may believe that they are buying into the USA brand when they pick up a box from Asda, in truth they are not. The supplements on sale in the UK are not available in the USA but seemed to have been designed specifically for the UK market.
By contrast, Hydroxycut in the USA has a wide product range mainly around fat burning stimulants. The company has been associated with some dreadful and dangerous supplements yet have managed to continue using the same style of advertising and making the same old claims. In our opinion, the past 20 years of Hydroxycut have not proven that this “best loved “brand is worth trying. It just seems to prove that people have very short memories and are willing to gamble their health on the promise of losing some weight.
After all, how can we be sure that Hydroxycut today is any safer than previous products? The simple answer is that we cannot. There are still concerns about dangerous stimulants and side effects contained in many Hydroxycut supplements. Even though Hydroxycut is on sale just about everywhere in the USA, in our opinion you just can’t trust that this brand is safe.
Disclaimer: Our reviews and investigations are based on extensive research from the information publicly available to us and consumers at the time of first publishing the post. Information is based on our personal opinion and whilst we endeavour to ensure information is up-to-date, manufacturers do from time to time change their products and future research may disagree with our findings. If you feel any of the information is inaccurate, please contact us and we will review the information provided.