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Over the last decade, the obesity levels in the Western World have skyrocketed. During the same period, the demand for weight loss products has increased at a similar rate. Everybody, it seems, is after the quickest, easiest way to lose their excess body fat. That means they're looking for their weight solution in a pill.
Hydroxycut is a thermogenic fat burner. It is sold through the official website and through local retailers. Hydroxycut has undergone two major ingredient reformulations over the years. The original product, released in 2000, contained ephedra.
This product was banned in 2004, leading to a major revamp of the product. In 2009, it was identified that some of the ingredients in Hydroxycut potentially caused liver problems. Another ingredient revamp took place. Since 2013, the key ingredients have been caffeine, robusta coffee, saffron and maqui berry.
Robusta Coffee Extract is a type of coffee bean that is characterized by a bitter taste and acidic nature. 45% of the content of robusta coffee extract is chlorogenic acid. As a weight loss agent, robusta coffee bean extract is designed to control levels of blood sugar and speed up the metabolism for faster fat burn (1).
On the official Hydroxycut website, a study is used to show the benefits of Robusta coffee extract. It claims that study subjects who took the extract for 60 days lost twice as much weight as those who took a placebo (10.95 pounds versus 5.4 pounds). However, the study was commissioned by the manufacturers, so cannot be relied upon as an independent piece of research.
Robusta coffee extract has some identified potential side effects. These include insomnia, nausea, rapid heart rate, anxiety and headaches.
Saffron is a plant extract that is commonly used in cooking. It has traditionally been used to improve mood and as a general immunity booster to overcome feelings of ill health. The improvement in mental outlook has been seized upon by weight loss proponents to show how it can help with weight loss. This is because mental outlook is a key to successful weight loss.
It is also believed that saffron extract can increase the body's natural levels of seratonin. Higher seratonin levels lead to a feeling of fullness and satiation. This helps to reduce cravings and feelings of hunger throughout the day (2).
It has been shown that taking large amounts of saffron extract by mouth can cause such side effects as yellowing of the skin and eyes and diarrhea.
Caffeine anhydrous is a dehydrated form of the world's most popular central nervous system stimulant. Caffeine stimulates the production of adrenaline, getting you pumped up to perform. It has also been shown to up the levels of fatty acids in the blood, making them more available to be used as an energy source (3).
Caffeine also has a metabolic boosting effect, meaning that you burn more calories throughout the day and night. In one study, it was shown that regular caffeine supplementation can boost the metabolism by as much as 11% per hour (4).
Hydroxycut contains 400 mg of caffeine anhydrous per serving. This is at the upper limit of the recommended daily allowance. Hydroxycut advise not to take the product within 5 hours of retiring for the night. They also advise drinking 8-10 glasses of water per day. These recommendations recognize the fact that caffeine has a highly stimulatory as well as dehydrating effect on the body.
Hydroxycut also advise against taking any other stimulant products as this would push the caffeine levels to unsafe amounts. Some people may react to the levels of caffeine in this product. Common side effects are anxiety, agitation, chest pain, jitters, rapid heart rate, dehydration and mood swings.
Because many people are sensitive to caffeine, you should introduce Hydroxycut to your system slowly. Start with just one tablet and only increase if you do not have sensitivity reactions.
Maqui is a purple colored berry out of Chile which is packed with antioxidants. This will help with cardiovascular health, improved immuno-system function. It will also improve joint mobility and reduce allergic reactions. In fact, maqui has 4-8 times the antioxidants that are contained in Acai berry (5).
Maqui is used to help with weight loss. However, there have been no clinical studies to back it's usefulness in this regard.
Amla extract comes from the Indian gooseberry plant. It has been used for a whole range of health benefits in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries. Its main uses have been to rejuvenate the functions and organs of the body, as well as boosting the immune system and slowing down the aging process (6).
In terms of assisting in weight loss, Amla extract is believed to speed up the digestive process, improving the absorption and assimilation of food. It has also been shown to lower bad cholesterol levels.
The main ingredient in Hydoxycut is caffeine, which is dosed very highly at 400 mg. While caffeine is the most studied weight loss stimulant on the planet, it comes with a shopping list of side effects and a sizable portion of the population are sensitive to caffeine.
Of the other ingredients, Robusta Coffee Extract looks promising in terms of controlling blood sugar levels and speeding up the metabolism. However, the only study cited on the official website is one that was commissioned by the manufacturer. In the absence of independent testing, we cannot say that it is effective as a fat loss agent.
Saffron is a credible ingredient to control appetite and reduce hunger pangs. Maqui and Amla extract have many beneficial properties, but their proven ability to help with weight loss is non existent.
Overall, the ingredients in Hydroxycut are lacking in scientific backing to show their effectiveness as agents for weight loss.
Hydroxycut has been a top selling weight loss pill for a long time. Over the years it's ingredient profile has changed a number of times. The current formulation is built around caffeine anhydrous and robusta coffee extract, both of which have a proven ability to speed up the metabolism and central nervous system, as well as controlling blood sugar levels. The other ingredients, while beneficial for general healthy and as immunity boosters, have very limited scientific proof to back up their ability to help with weight loss.
People who have no sensitivity to caffeine will benefit from the stimulant properties of Hydroxycut, though they can probably get the same effect by drinking 3-4 cups of coffee throughout the day.
(1) Maria Daglia ,† Adele Papetti ,† Cesarina Gregotti ,‡ Francantonio Bertè ,‡ and Gabriella Gazzani: In Vitro Antioxidant and ex Vivo Protective Activities of Green and Roasted Coffee
(2) Jørgensen HS. Studies on the neuroendocrine role of serotonin
(3) Acheson KJ, Zahorska-Markiewicz B, Pittet P, Anantharaman K, Jéquier E.: Caffeine and coffee: their influence on metabolic rate and substrate utilization in normal weight and obese individuals.
(4) Astrup A1, Toubro S, Cannon S, Hein P, Breum L, Madsen J.: Caffeine: a double-blind, placebo-controlled study of its thermogenic, metabolic, and cardiovascular effects in healthy volunteers.
(5) Davinelli S1, Bertoglio JC2, Zarrelli A3, Pina R4, Scapagnini G1: A Randomized Clinical Trial Evaluating the Efficacy of an Anthocyanin-Maqui Berry Extract (Delphinol®) on Oxidative Stress Biomarkers.
(6) Bibhabasu Hazra†, Rhitajit Sarkar†, Santanu Biswas and Nripendranath Mandal: Research article Comparative study of the antioxidant and reactive
oxygen species scavenging properties in the extracts of the fruits of Terminalia chebula,Terminalia belerica and Emblica officinalis.
Steve Theunissen is a freelance writer living in Melbourne, Australia. He is a former gym owner and personal trainer and is the author of six hardcopy books and more than a hundred ebooks on the topics of bodybuilding, fitness and fat loss. Steve also writes history books with a focus on the history of warfare. He is married and has two daughters. You can contact him via the "About Us" page.