“Scientifically formulated with a clinically researched key complex, Hydroxycut Hardcore™ Pro Series™ has been designed to support weight-loss efforts to help you get ripped! As a leader, the Hydroxycut™ Hardcore Pro Series™ key ingredients are backed by 2 clinical studies suggesting its ability to deliver real results.”
Pretty tame stuff, for MuscleTech. After all, we’re now into what’s got to be the thousandth variation of the Hydroxycut formula. It all started with Hydroxycut, then evolved rapidly to several “new and improved” versions, then the “Hardcore” version, the “Max” version for women, the “Hardcore X” version, and now finally, the “Pro Series” version (I’m sure there will be plenty more, too).
So all things considered, the folks at MuscleTech aren’t really pulling out all the stops to draw your attention to their product. Maybe they are trying to stay under the FDA’s radar, after 2009’s public warning and product recall?
Anyhow, let’s take a look at the formula and specifically, these two positive studies referenced. Let’s start with the studies…
According to MuscleTech…
Study One: In one twelve-week, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled human clinical trial, 29 test subjects were given the key complex HydroxyPro™ (Alchemilla vulgaris extract, Olea europaea extract, Cuminum cyminum extract, Mentha longifolia extract) contained in Hydroxycut™ Hardcore Pro Series™ or they were given a placebo. Subjects using this key complex lost an average of 20.94 lbs. vs. those using the placebo, who lost an average of 1.70 lbs. Both groups followed a calorie-reduced diet.
Study Two: A separate eight-week clinical research trial on 61 human subjects, funded by the makers of Hydroxycut™ Hardcore Pro Series™, demonstrated that those who used the same key complex contained in Hydroxycut™ Hardcore Pro Series™ lost an average of 16.50 lbs. vs. those using the placebo, who lost an average of 1.73 lbs.* Both groups followed a calorie-reduced diet.
Sounds pretty impressive, right?
Let’s discuss the first study.
To begin with, the language is a bit vague. To me, it sounds like the HydroxyPro™ element (the Alchemilla vulgaris extract, Olea europaea extract, Cuminum cyminum extract, and Mentha longifolia extract) of the product was studied by MuscleTech in a clinical trial.
However, it’s a little hard to believe MuscleTech would conduct a study on a single element of their product’s formula, especially when a positive published study already exists for this series of ingredients.
Regardless, since the “study” they are discussing doesn’t seem to be published anywhere, let’s take a look at the one that is.
As already indicated, this combination seems to help with weight loss (although losing 1.75 lbs. per week over the course of 12 weeks isn’t exactly revolutionary, and well within the realms of what you can attain with proper diet and exercise).
The devil, however, is in the details.
In this case, the details make it difficult to allot a ton of credence to the study results. For example…
- The calorie intake of the participants was not restricted or monitored. Instead, participants were asked only to restrict their meals to three per day.Since the calorie value of meals can vary dramatically depending on your food choices, this essentially places each individual into their own unique study group—as no two participants will consume exactly the same amount of calories.Think about it: if you know participants are still over-consuming calories in a significant amount, yet losing weight, that makes these ingredients significantly more valuable. If participants are under-consuming calories, that undermines the study results, does it not?Fact is, if you don’t know how many calories your audience is consuming, it’s impossible to accurately attribute any success or failure to a series of ingredients.
- This study was not placebo controlled. In other words, the folks in the study group taking the product knew that they were, while the folks in the control group received nothing.This is a big deal.Folks taking the product may have seen it as a license to eat more (or perhaps less). The folks in the control group had very little incentive to stick to the straight and narrow.As we both know, the placebo effect is very real, which is why any good study puts both the study group and the control group on a pill, with neither of them knowing who is getting the real thing. I can’t see any reason why this wasn’t done in this case… unless you want to tip the scales towards a favorable outcome, that is.
In other words, all this study does is indicate the need for a properly controlled and monitored one to further confirm or dispel the claims that this quartet of ingredients actually “works”. Perhaps the study referenced by Muscle Tech used better methodology, but since we can’t examine it, we’ll never know, right?
What about the second referenced study?
Well it does not do much to improve matters; we know it’s funded by Iovate (the makers of Hydroxycut), but it also does not seem to be published anywhere that I can find. This does not mean the study is bogus, of course.
However, it pays to be skeptical when those who have the most to gain financially from a positive study outcome are the ones holding the purse strings.
Lastly, because the label doesn’t provide any specific details, we can’t even be sure this formula contains the precise amounts of each ingredient as proven effective.
(According to the study the supplement used contained 60 mg Alchemilla vulgaris extract, 50 mg Olea europaea extract, 25 mg Cuminum cyminum extract, 20 mg Mentha longifolia extract and 7 mg Vitamin C. Hydroxycut does contain exactly 7 mg of vitamin C, which would suggest it does, but we can’t confirm this for sure).
OK, what about the remaining ingredients? In addition to the HydroxyPro™ matrix, the Hardcore Pro formula also contains several other matrixes…
1. Epidine™: Contains an indeterminate amount of…
- Caffeine: Since the outlawing of ephedra, most versions of Hydroxycut have been packed to the bursting point with caffeine, so it’s not surprising to see that trend continued here.Sure, evidence suggests caffeine is a mild thermogenic and helpful for weight loss (see clinical evidence here and here!). However, caffeine is also a cheap and easy way to provide an energy boost and alleviate fatigue.
- Oleic Acid: Dietary oleic acid (the main fatty acid in olive oil and avocados) seems to trigger the production of a hormone, oleoylethanolamide, that helps regulate body weight and appetite. Does Hydroxycut contain an effective dose? Who knows?
- L-Leucine: One of three branched-chain amino acids, extremely helpful for muscle protein synthesis. However, the value it brings to this formula in what has to be a miniscule dosage, is minimal.
- L-Methionine: More commonly known as methionine, this ingredient aids in fat metabolism and acts as an antioxidant.
- L-Proline: A non-essential amino acid that aids the body in metabolizing proteins and plays a critical role in the development of connective tissue like collagen and cartilage.
2. Lipidrol™: Contains an indeterminate amount of…
- L-tyrosine: a conditionally essential amino acid synthesized from phenylalanine. It’s a precursor for several important physiological compounds, including the thyroid hormone thyroxine (T4) and the catecholamine neurotransmitters (dopamine, norepinephrine and epinephrine). Tyrosine administration has been shown to improve mood and performance under environmental and physical stress.Because tyrosine is a thyroid hormone precursor, retailers include it in their products on the assumption supplementation will lead to an elevated metabolism and therefore, weight loss. Unfortunately, there is no clinical evidence to indicate that this is so.
- Trans-Ferulic Acid: From our glossary…”Also known as 4-hydroxy-3-methoxy cinnamic acid. Ferulic acid is a polyphenolic constituent of plant cell walls. It’s abundant in whole grains, fruits and some vegetables. It’s a potent antioxidant in-vitro, although its dietary bioavailability may be limited. Ferulic acid and its derivatives have potential therapeutic applications against diseases such as cancer and diabetes, but human clinical trials are lacking.”
3. Capsicore™: Apparently, this is Muscle Tech’s version of cayenne/capsaicin. Cayenne (the active ingredient of which is called “capsaicin”) is often used to improve digestion. Topically as a cream, it can be used to treat arthritis. However, it may improve the efficiency of the circulatory system, as well as elevating the internal body temperature, and increasing fat burning ability through thermogenesis.
There is a small body of evidence that indicates that cayenne consumption can indeed elevate the metabolism (Br J Nutr 1999;82:115–23).
Unfortunately, it’s only at much higher doses (one study used 10 grams consumed along with meals!) that any effect is realized. This study (Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2007 Jan;292(1):R77-85. Epub 2006 Jul 13) says it best…
“Capsaicin has been shown to be effective, yet when it is used clinically it requires a strong compliance to a certain dosage, that has not been shown to be feasible yet.”
In other words, in order for capsaicin to have an effect on your metabolism, it has to be taken in doses much too high to make it practical.
And that’s it. Hydroxycut Hardcore Pro Series in all its “glory.”
So, how’s it measure up?
Well, considering that a two-capsule dose offers up a mere 680 mg to be divided up between 12 ingredients, we can be certain that most ingredients are included only as label dressing.
The exceptions are caffeine, oleic acid, and the 4-ingredient HydroxyPro™ blend upon which this formula is based. We have no doubt that this version of Hydroxycut will be effective at tearing the top of your head off—that’s pretty much in keeping with the recent formulations. As such, this is probably not the ideal product for you if you are sensitive to caffeine or have an underlying health issue that prevents you from experimenting with stimulant-based products.
But the “proven effectiveness” of the remaining “properly dosed” ingredients is debatable. All in all, I’d say this new version is little “underwhelming.”