The original Muscletech Hydroxycut with ephedra diet pill was one of the best-selling weight loss supplements during the 1990’s, until it was banned by the FDA in 2004.
Ephedra is a plant extract that contains ephedrine, a powerful thermogenic stimulant that can boost metabolism, enhance energy and control appetite cravings.
While many people experienced weight loss success with Hydroxycut due to its ECA stack formula, this product was also associated with an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes.
There are many new formulations of Hydroxycut on the market today, but none contain ephedra. Two of the most popular are the Hydroxycut Hardcore and Hydroxycut Max versions.
A number of other ephedra weight loss supplements are also available. Before turning to Hydroxycut or any ephedra diet pills, take the time to research the ingredients, potential results, and safety of use. Click here to buy ephedra supplements online legally without a prescription.
Hydroxycut with Ephedra
Muscletech’s Hydroxycut with ephedra was among the most popular nutritional supplements promoted in the 1980’s and 1990’s for accelerated weight loss results.
To this day, it remains one of the highest selling fat burner product lines in the United States.
The original Hydroxycut pills were designed for dieters, bodybuilders and athletes to boost fat loss potential and increase metabolism.
This supplement was also purported to increase stamina and enhanced overall performance, supporting the development of lean muscle mass.
Thanks to the ephedra content, Hydroxycut was an effective stimulant that enhanced energy levels, motivation and focus. It also suppressed the appetite, making it easier to stick to a diet.
While many experienced positive effects when using the original Hydroxycut pills, there was also a high prevalence of unwanted side effects linked to the ephedrine alkaloids.
Multiple health agencies and universities around the world began to study efficacy and safety of the Ephedrine, Caffeine, Aspirin stack used in this supplement and others. They showed that this stack was effective for increasing Basal Metabolic Rate and Body Fat Reduction.
However, they also determined that this plant extract posed an unreasonably high risk of severe side effects. While only a small number of cases of dangerous adverse events were linked to ephedra, regulators around the world stepped in to restrict availability of this ingredient in dietary supplements.
In 2004, products containing ephedrine alkaloids were banned by the United States Food and Drug Administration due to the potential for cardiovascular side effects. 
Muscletech had to recall the original Hydroxycut formulation and replace it with a new ephedra-free version.
Weight Loss Results
Based on user reviews, the benefits of Hydroxycut with Ephedra were not disputed, and many users saw significant weight loss when combined with diet and exercise.
Using an ephedrine, caffeine and aspirin stack can increase metabolic rate so that you burn more calories throughout the day. This is referred to as a thermogenic effect which is energy expenditure for the production of body heat.
A few studies were conducted to examine the potential weight loss results of combinations of ephedrine, caffeine, and aspirin.
One small study involving 20 individuals using an ECA stack (30 mg ephedra, 100 mg caffeine, and 300 mg aspirin) noted that increase thermogenesis did occur in all of the test subjects.
A greater effect was found in those who were obese compared to those who already had a relatively lean body weight. The enhanced thermogenesis was sustained for approximately 2.5 hours. 
Because Hydroxycut with Ephedra can also decrease appetite, it could promote mild to moderate weight loss even in individuals who did not increase their activity level.
In another study involving three dozen morbidly obese individuals, subjects provided with an ECA supplement containing either 75 mg or 150 mg ephedra, 150 mg caffeine, and 330 mg aspirin.
Those individuals lost an average of 2.2 kg over an eight-week period. Five of the subjects lost at additional 5.2 kg after five months. One individual in this study lost a total of 66 kg in just over a year in combination with a reduced caloric intake diet. 
Before and after pictures of Hydroxycut ephedra users show that this supplement could promote significant fat loss in some cases. However, not everyone will see the same results or experience the same benefits.
Ephedra Effects as a Fat Burner
Ephedrine is derived from the stems of Ephedra sinica, otherwise known as Ma Huang. This plant has been used in Asian cultures for the treatment of breathing and lung conditions for centuries.
This plant has a number of effects that can contribute to fat loss. It works by increasing heart rate, opening airways and nasal passages, boosting oxygenation and circulation and by stimulating adrenergic receptors.
Altogether, these changes put the body in a state where it is breaking down fat at a faster rate and converting that fuel into energy and body heat.
There are four active alkaloids in ephedra extract that contribute to its fat-burning effects:
Ephedrine is the primary active substance that makes up the majority of the alkaloid content in this plant. It is a sympathomimetic amine that has a similar effect on the body as the hormone adrenaline. It is noted for its ability to enhance metabolism by increasing thermogenesis.
Pseudoephedrine is a related alkaloid that has some of the same effects as ephedrine but is less powerful. This ingredient is found in many decongestants today including Sudafed. It is used to relieve sinus pressure and nasal blockages. When used by athletes or bodybuilders, pseudoephedrine is perceived to open airways, enabling greater intake of oxygen.
Norephedrine is used medicinally as a decongestant. It was previously the active stimulant ingredient in the over-the-counter dietary supplement Dexatrim. It works as a sympathomimetic agent and was used as an appetite suppressant. 
Methylephedrine is a derivative of ephedrine that has been used medically, but is not as well researched as the other alkaloids.
All of these alkaloids are stimulants that cause you to burn more calories. However, they work by increasing blood pressure and putting additional strain on the heart.
While some people will see only minimal changes in blood pressure and cardiovascular output, others will experience more serious reactions like hypertension, chest pain, heart palpitations and more.
Many sources argue that ephedra is safe when used appropriately. The FDA ruled that there was too great a risk of misuse and abuse to allow products like Hydroxycut with Ephedra to remain on the market.
Side Effects from Hydroxycut Ephedra
What were the adverse reactions that led to Hydroxycut and other ephedra supplements being banned? Negative effects reported in clinical trials included:
- Difficulty sleeping or insomnia
- Jitteriness, anxiety and nervousness
- Dizziness or vertigo
- Nausea, stomach pain or vomiting
- Lack of appetite
- Confusing thoughts
- Changes in mood
- Tachycardia (increased heart rate)
- Heart palpitations
- Increased sweating
Use of ephedrine diet pills is particularly dangerous for anyone who has a history of cardiovascular disease or high blood pressure. Even at low dosages, side effects and adverse reactions were possible.
Ephedrine-containing products could also negatively interact with:
- Prescription medications – antidepressants, diuretics, blood pressure medications, etc.
- Over-the-counter drugs
- Herbal remedies
Some cases of heart attacks, strokes, seizures and deaths were associated with use of products similar to Hydroxycut. There was also a high rate of abuse or misuse of these fat burners, with individuals taking elevated doses for long periods of time.
FDA Bans Original Hydroxycut Ingredient
In 2004, the FDA issued a Final Rule (CFR Part 119) which made it illegal to sell dietary supplements that contained the ephedrine alkaloids.
They declared that this alkaloid was an adulterant because it posed an “unreasonable risk” of injury or illness based on recommendations for use, labeling, or due to lack of proper labeling.
This ruling was based on “peer-reviewed scientific literature on the effects of ephedrine alkaloids, and the adverse events reported to have occurred in individuals following consumption of dietary supplements containing ephedrine alkaloids.” 
MuscleTech’s Hydroxycut was also made illegal in many other countries around the world at the same time. You cannot buy the original formulation in Canada, the UK, Australia or other major markets.
However, there are still some forms of ephedra supplements that are legal in the USA, which is different from most other countries.
Under FDA policy, if the ephedrine alkaloids are removed from the Ephedra plant, it can still be legally used in over-the-counter dietary supplements. It is only this alkaloid that was banned.
Other forms of ephedra extract that do not contain this alkaloid are still legal. There are many new supplements that claim to be reformulated versions of Hydroxycut containing this ephedrine-free version of ephedra.
Because these supplements do not contain ephedrine as their active ingredient, they rely on other stimulants and fat burning compounds to promote weight loss results.
Hydroxycut Weight Loss Supplements
While the original formulation of this product is no longer available, Hydroxycut remains the best-selling weight management brand in North America with over 100 million bottles of products sold.
Hydroxycut does not sell any products that contain ephedra extract, but they do have an extensive line of weight management supplements. Some of the brands that continue to be sold include:
- Hydroxycut Hardcore
- Hydroxycut Max
- Hydroxycut Black
- Hydroxycut Platinum
- Hydroxycut Caffeine Free
- Pro Clinical Hydroxycut
- Hydroxycut Gummies
- Hydroxycut Instant Drink Mix
- Hydroxycut Lean Protein Bars and Protein Shakes
Among these products, the Hardcore supplement contains the most stimulating ingredients. However, none of these products will compare to ephedrine in terms of experience or mechanism of action.
The diet and weight loss industry has largely moved away from using stimulant compounds in fat burning supplements due to the risk of litigation and misuse. This is disappointing for the many thousands of people who took these diet pills safely and responsibly.
Alternatives to Hydroxycut
If you are interested in alternatives that provide similar effects to the original Hydroxycut with ephedra pills, there are many brands that purport to be legal substitutes.
HydroxySlim is an ephedra extract supplement manufactured by Hi Tech Pharmaceuticals under the National Institute for Clinical Weight Loss brand. The product, is marketed for its ability to:
- Enhance metabolism
- Promote thermogenesis
- Suppress appetite
- Increase energy
HydroxySlim ephedra diet pills also contain caffeine, white willow bark (salicin), and yohimbine extract in an ECY stack formula.
The full ingredients list is as follows:
- Ephedra leaf extract 20 mg
- Guarana seed extract (200 mg caffeine)
- Bitter orange fruit (50 mg synephrine)
- Garcinia cambogia (50% Hydroxy citric acid)
- Green tea extract
- Yohimbe extract
- Acacia Rigidula extract
- Chromium Picolinate
- White willow bark extract
There are a number of additional ephedra weight loss supplements sold in the US today. Some of the popular brand names include:
- Yellow Devils – manufactured by AGL (25 mg ephedra plus 300 mg caffeine)
- Green Stinger – Schwartz Labs (27 mg ephedra)
- Hellfire EPH 150 – Innovative Laboratories (150 mg ephedra)
- Black Mamba – Innovative Laboratories (65 mg ephedra)
- Diablo’s ECA Fire Caps – Innovative Laboratories (50 mg ephedra)
- Liquid Fire – GE Pharma (35 mg ephedra)
Note that the ephedra used in these supplements does not contain real ephedrine alkaloids. While this plant does have some other phytonutrients that may contribute to weight loss, most of the stimulating effects from these supplements will depend on the inclusion of other ingredients.
These products are available online and from some traditional brick-and-mortar nutrition supplement stores including:
- Ephedra Outlet
- Live Lean Today
- Ephedra Warehouse
- A1 Supplements
These brands are typically not sold by major retailers, including Amazon, Walmart, CVS, GNC, Walgreens, Rite-Aid or Target.
While Hydroxycut with Ephedra is no longer available in the U.S., those interested in fat burning or thermogenic supplements can find a number of legal substitutes.
Before using these products, consult with a doctor to determine whether they are appropriate for you or not. Uses are advised to proceed with caution and not to take these products for long periods of time.
If you decide to use Hydroxycut or any other weight loss supplements, make sure to follow an appropriate diet and exercise program for optimal benefits.
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