Hydroxycut is one of the most popular and well-known weight loss diet supplement brands on the market today. It’s baffling therefore, why Iovate (or Muscle Tech or whatever they are calling themselves these days) continue to dilute its value by releasing product after product under the same moniker. Hydroxycut Advanced is just one in a series of many Hydroxycut products, which include “Shape”, “Pro Series”, “Max for Women” and “Hardcore”. And of course, there’s the versions with acai and green tea, too.
Heck, there are so many products we’ve got an entire page dedicated to listing the various reviews.
So what makes this variation different—or better, for that matter—than all the other readily available versions?
The short answer is… not much.
Muscletech / Iovate appears more interested in targeting various segments of the marketplace with appropriate branding and advertising rather than actually engineering unique variations of their formulas for different audiences.
It’s all about the marketing, baby!
What’s in Hydroxycut Advanced?
The Hydroxycut proprietary blend contains 562 mg worth of ingredients. These are divided into two “matrixes”, which together offer up 9 ingredients…
1. The Hydroxagen™ matrix: Contains…
Cissus quadrangularis: Also known as “Veld Grape”, Cissus is a medicinal plant native to Africa, India, and other parts of Asia. It has traditionally been used to treat a variety of ailments such as bone fractures, ulcers, wounds, indigestion and asthma.
Cissus quadrangularis has gained popularity in bodybuilding circles as an analgesic and palliative for weight lifting injuries.
Lately though, it’s been finding its way into weight loss products, largely as a result of two studies (Lipids Health Dis. 2007 Feb 4;6:4, Lipids Health Dis. 2006 Sep 2;5:24.) that appear to validate its effectiveness for weight loss.
It also appears to be helpful for lowering blood sugar levels, decreasing serum lipids and “improving cardiovascular risk factors.
On the face of it, this seems promising. Unfortunately, there is a bit of a problem: the lead author of these studies, Julius E Oben, has a patent on Cissus quadrangularis—which means there’s a potential conflict of interest here.
Additionally, despite being used for ages by bodybuilders to aid with weight lifting injuries, weight loss is something not typically reported by users of this substance.
So while it appears that Cissus is helpful, we really need some independent confirmation before we can recommend it as a weight loss aid.
Secondly, it’s impossible to determine whether Hydroxycut Advanced contains an effective dose of Cissus. Certainly it’s possible, but given the ambiguity of the label, we can’t confirm this one way or the other.
The other ingredients in the “Matrix” are:
- Goji extract: Also known as Lycium barbarum and Wolfberry, goji berries are rich in antioxidants and a good source of beta carotene and zeaxanthin (which is also included in this formula).
- Acerola extract: The fruit of a small tree/shrub, it’s a source of antioxidants and especially high in vitamin C.
- Zeaxanthin: A bioflavanoid offering antioxidant and anti-inflammatory protection. It’s common to leafy green vegetables, and critical to the health of the eye.
2. The HydroxyPlus™ matrix: Contains…
Caffeine: It wouldn’t be a Hydroxycut product if it weren’t jammed full of caffeine; and this one is—200 mg per two capsule serving. This is enough to give most people a pretty good jolt of nervous energy, but is definitely too much for anyone who has high blood pressure or is sensitive to stimulants. Despite this, caffeine’s benefit as a thermogenic (fat burner) is well documented (see Am J Clin Nutr. 1989 Jan;49(1):44-50, Am J Clin Nutr. 1980 May;33(5):989-97), although its effects are much less dramatic than most retailers suggest.
Pomegranate (standardized for ellagitannins and gallotannins): You are probably familiar with the pomegranate, and the fact that it too is a rich source of antioxidant polyphenols (ellagitannins and gallotannins are two).
Ellagitannins show anti cancer effects in vitro, help reduce atherosclerosis in mice by inhibiting LDL oxidation, and have potent antioxidant characteristics.
There is some early evidence that they may enhance sports recovery as well. Gallotannins, despite also exhibiting both antioxidant and antibacterial effects, also seems to display anti-nutritional effects.
Blueberry (supplying flavanoids): Flavanoids are polyphenols found in fruits, plants and tea. They also exhibit potent antioxidant and anti inflammatory effects.
Hibiscus (supplying phytosterols): The hibiscus, of course, is a flower. Phytosterols are chemical compounds similar in structure to cholesterol and are “all the rage” these days as studies indicate consumption can lower cholesterol levels in humans.
Bilberry extract: From our glossary…
Produced from the fruit of Vaccinium myrtillus—a shrub closely related to blueberry. Bilberries are rich in anthocyanosides. These are flavonoid pigments responsible for the fruit’s deep blue/violet color.
Berry anthocyanins have been shown to have anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory and anti-diabetic activities. Bilberry extracts specifically have been shown to have vasoprotective, myeloprotective and possible chemopreventive effects.
And there you have it; the complete Hydroxycut Advanced formula dissected.
So let’s wrap things up.
What’s the bottom line?
Well, there are only two ingredients here with any weight loss application at all; Cissus and caffeine. And, if you remember, there’s a conflict of interest involved with the positive Cissus studies, so how much value it really offers is a matter that can only be confirmed by independent studies (and we have none of those).
That diminishes the potential value of this product considerably.
Additionally, if the Cissus is present at the dose used in the positive studies (300 mg/day), there’s very little left of that 556 mg to be divided up amongst the remaining ingredients. That means that as wonderful as all these exotic antioxidant sources are, they are all likely to be present only as “label dressing” (i.e., as doses too small to elicit any effect, but they make the label appear impressive).
To cap it all off, this is a weight loss product. You’re not buying Hydroxycut Advanced because you want more polyphenols and antioxidants in your life, you’re buying it because you want to lose weight. So although one can hardly argue with consuming more rich sources of vital antioxidant chemicals, why not leave that to a dedicated product and focus on the weight loss in this one?
If Iovate wanted to include polyphenols in this product so badly, why not throw in some green tea? At least it has a weight loss application.