If you want to know how Legion Phoenix compares to Muscletech Hydroxycut Hardcore Elite in terms of ingredients, dosages, and effectiveness, then you want to read this article.

Key Takeaways

  1. Hydroxycut Hardcore Elite contains three ingredients that have been proven to accelerate fat loss, but we don’t know the dosages of two of them. In addition to that, Hydroxycut’s “key weight loss ingredient” (green coffee bean extract) isn’t proven to increase fat burning.
  2. Phoenix, on the other hand, contains nine ingredients that, together, speed up your metabolism and fat loss and reduce hunger. Each are backed by sound scientific research and contained at clinically effective levels.
  3. If you don’t put much faith in the scientific literature or feel particularly drawn to Hydroxycut Hardcore Elite for whatever reason, then it may be the better choice for you.

Good ol’ Hydroxycut—America’s number-one-selling weight loss brand.

The phenomenon started all the way back in 2002 and it’s still going strong, despite several rounds of scandals (including liver failure and even death), reformulations, and relaunches.

Their current flagship product, Hydroxycut Hardcore Elite, is a top-selling fat burner that’s widely available in supplement stores and pharmacies. On Bodybuilding.com, it boasts an impressive average rating of 8.7/10 based on feedback from 1,300 customers, and received awards in both 2013 and 2015.

It’s easy to see why this fella is the King Kong of fat loss supplements.

Hydroxycut Hardcore Elite has a mammoth marketing machine behind it, and it contains several popular ingredients generally associated with weight loss like caffeine, green coffee bean extract, and yohimbe.

My fat burner supplement Phoenix, on the other hand, has been on the market for just a few years now, and features a very different formulation designed to increase metabolic rate, amplify the power of your body’s fat-burning chemicals, and reduce hunger and cravings. It’s also one of our bestselling products, with over 1,000 positive reviews on Amazon.com and the Legion Store.

So, how do these fat burners compare in terms of bottom-line results? Well, here’s the long story short:

Hydroxycut Hardcore Elite is relatively inexpensive, readily available, and features five ingredients purported to accelerate fat loss. Unfortunately, though, some of the dosages are unknown and their “key ingredient,” green coffee bean extract, is largely unproven.

Phoenix, on the other hand, contains nine ingredients that are backed by sound scientific research and contained at clinically effective levels. Studies show that together, they will speed up your metabolism and fat loss and reduce hunger and cravings.

Therefore, Phoenix simply gives you more fat burning bang for your buck.

Don’t just take my word for it, though. Let’s find out why.

Do You Want Science-Backed Ingredients and Dosages?

These days everybody says their formulations are “backed by science,” but what does that mean, really?

Well, it boils down to this:

For a product to fully have science on its side, every ingredient must be proven effective in well-designed, well-executed, and peer-reviewed scientific research, and every dosage of every ingredient must conform to the dosages used in these studies (“clinically effective dosages”).

If a product doesn’t meet these simple criteria—if the majority of its ingredients haven’t been proven effective in high-quality research and if most of the dosages are below the clinically effective levels—then it’s not “backed by science,” and probably not worth buying.

Both Phoenix and Hydroxycut Hardcore Elite claim to have scientifically validated formulations, so let’s see how they compare in this regard.

What Does Science Have to Say About Hydroxycut?

phoenix vs hydroxycut

Each serving of Hydroxycut Hardcore Elite contains six active ingredients:

  • Caffeine Anhydrous
  • Green Coffee Bean Extract
  • Coleus Extract (Supplying Forskolin)
  • L-Theanine
  • Cocoa Extract (Supplying Theobromine)
  • Yohimbe Extract (Supplying Yohimbine and Rauwolscine)

Let’s take a closer look at each.

270 Milligrams of Caffeine Anhydrous

Caffeine is a stimulant that increases resistance to fatigue, boosts strength and power, and improves cognition and alertness.

Beyond its performance benefits, caffeine helps you lose weight by increasing the amount of energy your body burns throughout the day.

Specifically, caffeine accelerates fat loss by increasing the amount of catecholamines in your blood, which are chemicals that mobilize fat stores to be burned. These chemicals also raise your body’s basal metabolic rate, which is the amount of energy it burns at rest.

Research shows that the clinically effective dosage of caffeine for fat loss ranges between 2 and 6 mg per kilogram of body weight taken one to three times per day (with larger doses taken less frequently). This would be 180 to 360 mg for a 200-pound man and 140 to 410 mg for a 150-pound woman.

Therefore, the 270 mg of caffeine in a serving of Hydroxycut Hardcore Elite is enough to increase fat burning for most people.

200 Milligrams of Green Coffee Bean Extract

Green coffee bean extract is a substance derived from green coffee beans, which contain high amounts of the compound chlorogenic acid.

Chlorogenic acid is a chemical that can reduce blood sugar and reduces the absorption of glucose. Research also shows that green coffee bean extract can improve markers of blood vessel function and at least temporarily lower blood pressure in people with prehypertension (high-ish blood pressure).

In terms of fat loss, a recent systematic review and meta-analysis of the three best studies on green coffee bean extract and weight loss found that they all suffered from some major methodological no-no’s: small sample sizes, improper randomization, and crucial missing data (like how much people weighed before they started taking the supplement).

Another red flag is most of the studies have been funded by companies that manufacture green coffee bean extract (and yes, fake science is alive and well in the supplement space). This is why the authors of the analysis cited above concluded that many of the studies have a high risk of bias.

So, while it’s possible that green coffee bean extract can help you lose weight, the state of the literature shouldn’t inspire much optimism. More research is needed before we can honestly say that it’s a likely bet.

Since green coffee bean extract hasn’t been proven to reliably cause fat loss, there’s no clinically effective dosage.

If we assume it does work though, the amount of green coffee bean extract used in studies showing positive results was standardized to provide a certain amount of chlorogenic acid. For weight loss, the “sweet spot” appears to be 400 to 500 mg of chlorogenic acid per day, and for lowering blood pressure, it’s at least 140 mg per day.

The chlorogenic acid content of the green coffee bean extract in Hydroxycut Hardcore Elite isn’t listed, so you don’t know exactly how much you’re getting.

That said, the best green coffee bean extracts on the market are no more than 50% chlorogenic acid, so based on the 200 mg of green coffee bean extract in a serving of Hydroxycut, the most chlorogenic acid it can provide is 100 mg.

Therefore, the 200 mg of green coffee bean extract in a serving of Hydroxycut won’t help you lose fat faster.

100 Milligrams of Coleus Extract

phoenix vs hydroxycut forskolin

Forskolin is a molecule found in the Indian herb Coleus forskohlii, and it’s long been used in Ayurvedic (Indian) medicine to treat heart and respiratory disorders.

Forskolin increases blood plasma and intracellular levels of the molecule cAMP (cyclic adenosine monophosphate), which functions as an intracellular “message relayer” vital to various biochemical processes including the regulation of glycogen, sugar, and lipid metabolism.

cAMP and ATP—adenosine triphosphate, the most basic form of cellular energy in the body—interact in a very simple yet powerful way in the cell:

When ATP is high, it indicates a plentiful energy state and tells the body to store nutrients and build tissues, but when cAMP is high, it signifies a lack of ATP and thus tells the body to produce energy by burning fat reserves.

Forskolin influences this relationship by activating the enzyme adenylyl cyclase, which converts ATP to cAMP. This initiates ATP-producing processes in the body, resulting in energy expenditure and fat burning.

This, in theory, should accelerate fat loss, and that’s exactly what’s been seen in human research.

For example, in one study conducted by scientists at the University of Kansas, people who took 25 mg of forskolin twice per day for 12 weeks lost about two pounds more than people who took placebo.

The same study found that forskolin can raise testosterone levels as well. The effect was too small to make any noticeable physiological difference (about 17%), but hey, we’ll take it.

The clinically effective dosage of forskolin isn’t entirely clear at this point, but 25 to 50 mg of per day has been shown to be effective. We also know that forskolin’s effects are amplified by synephrine. Hydroxycut doesn’t contain synephrine, but it’s worth mentioning as we’ll talk about it later.

The supplement facts of Hydroxycut Hardcore Elite only say the coleus extract is “supplying forskolin.” In other words, it’s not clear how much forskolin is actually being supplied, and the dose could range from a microgram to 100 mg.

Therefore, the 100 mg of coleus extract in a serving of Hydroxycut may or may not be enough to speed up fat loss.

100 Milligrams of L-Theanine

L-theanine is an amino acid that reduces stress and increases focus, alertness, and mood by increasing the production of calming neurotransmitters.

L-theanine can reduce feelings of stress and improve focus by itself, but its main benefit is taking the “edge” off of caffeine. In other words, taking L-theanine with caffeine helps you reap the benefits of caffeine without feeling overstimulated.

The clinically effective dosage of L-theanine is 100 to 200 mg per day, and for “stacking” purposes with caffeine, it’s typically included in supplements at about twice the amount of caffeine (100 to 200 mg of L-theanine to 50 to 100 mg of caffeine).

Therefore, the 100 mg of L-theanine in a serving of Hydroxycut is enough to improve focus, mood, and alertness, but probably won’t reduce the risk of overstimulation from the caffeine.

100 Milligrams of Cocoa Extract

Cocoa extract is a substance derived from the cacao plant (Theobroma cacao), whose seeds are used to make cocoa powder and chocolate.

This extract contains several bioactive compounds, including theobromine, which is a stimulant chemically similar to caffeine, and antioxidants like flavanols, procyanidins, and (-)-epicatechin.

There isn’t much research on theobromine, but it does seem to be able to improve mood and alertness, similarly to caffeine.

(-)-Epicatechin has been shown to increase nitric oxide production, which can widen blood vessels and improve blood flow, improve exercise performance, and may raise protein synthesis rates.

Dark chocolate, which is a rich source of these chemicals, has also been shown to increase blood flow, reduce blood pressure, and improve insulin sensitivity.

Can any of this help you lose fat faster, though?

Unfortunately, no.

Studies show that cocoa extract doesn’t speed up fat loss, but it may help mitigate the increase in blood pressure caused by caffeine.

That said, for improving blood flow, the clinically effective dosage of the flavanols found in cocoa extract is 550 mg, or 50 to 200 mg of (-)-epicatechin, and while the clinically effective dosage of theobromine isn’t well-established, 250 mg has shown positive effects on mood, with higher doses actually showing negative effects.

Now, as far as Hydroxycut Hardcore Elite goes, the flavanol and (-)-epicatechin content isn’t listed, so we don’t know if they’re even in there. All we know is the extract is “supplying theobromine,” and given the dosage of the extract, this could mean as little one microgram of theobromine per serving to as much as 100 mg.

Therefore, the 100 mg of cocoa extract in a serving of Hydroxycut won’t help you lose fat faster, and is likely too small to improve blood flow or mood.

56.3 Milligrams of Yohimbe Extract

phoenix vs hydroxycut yohimbine

Yohimbe (Pausinystalia johimbe) is a tree that grows in western and central Africa, and the bark contains the chemicals yohimbine and rauwolscine.

Yohimbine is a stimulant, and studies show that it can accelerate fat loss, but how it does this is a little complicated.

Fat cells have two types of receptors for adrenaline and noradrenaline (also known as catecholamines): “alpha” and “beta” receptors.

The physiology is quite complex, but what you need to know is when catecholamines bind to beta receptors, fat cells mobilize for burning. When the chemicals bind to alpha receptors, however, the cells don’t mobilize.

This is the physiological explanation for the “stubborn fat” phenomenon and the reason why it’s so hard to lose those last few pounds in your lower abs (most men) or hips and thighs (most women). The fat cells in these areas of your body are high in alpha and low in beta receptors.

Research shows that yohimbine blocks the activity of alpha receptors. This enables your body to reduce fat stores faster, and it’s particularly useful as you get leaner and are battling with stubborn fat holdouts.

There’s a slight catch with yohimbine, though: elevated insulin levels completely negate its weight loss effects. If you want to reap its fat loss benefits, you want to use it when you’re in a fasted state.

Yohimbine’s benefits don’t stop there, though. It does more than help you lose fat faster: research shows that it also improves exercise performance and it’s particularly effective at fighting off physical fatigue and increasing time to exhaustion.

Clinically effective dosages of yohimbine range from 0.1 to 0.2 mg per kilogram of body weight at the low end. Higher dosages have benefits and are generally considered safe, but the risk of side effects increases, especially when paired with other stimulants like caffeine.

For example, the clinically effective dosage would be 9 to 18 mg of yohimbine for a 200-pound man and 7 to 13 mg for a 150-pound woman.

One thing to keep in mind when supplementing with yohimbine is that while it’s generally well tolerated at low doses, higher doses can cause negative side effects like agitation, anxiety, hypertension, and rapid heart rate. This is why people with anxiety and panic disorders shouldn’t take yohimbine.

Rauwolscine is another molecule found in yohimbe extract that’s structurally similar to yohimbine. There isn’t much research on it yet, though, so we don’t know if it works similarly to yohimbine and what a clinically effective dosage might be.

According to the supplement facts panel, Hydroxycut Hardcore Elite contains yohimbe extract that’s “supplying yohimbine.” In other words, we don’t know much yohimbine is in each serving, and depending on the potency of the extract, it could range from as little as one microgram of yohimbine per serving to just below 56 mg.

Therefore, the 56.3 mg of yohimbe extract in a serving of Hydroxycut Hardcore Elite may or may not be enough to accelerate fat loss, and may or may not be safe for most people.

What Does Science Have to Say About Phoenix?

phoenix vs hydroxycut elite

Phoenix contains nine active ingredients:

  • Advantra Z Citrus Aurantium Fruit Extract (6% Synephrine)
  • Naringin
  • Epigallocatechin Gallate (from Green Tea Extract)
  • 5-HTP (Griffonia Simplicifolia) Seed Extract
  • L-Tyrosine
  • Salicin (White WIllow) Bark Extract
  • Hesperidin
  • Forskolin (Coleus Forskohlii)
  • Hordenine HCL (N, N-dimethyl-tyramine)

And here’s how the dosages break down per serving:

834 Milligrams of Advantra Z

Advantra Z, also known as Citrus aurantium fruit extract, is an extract of the bitter orange fruit, which contains the compound synephrine.

Synephrine is a natural chemical similar in structure and function to but less potent than ephedrine, adrenaline, and noradrenaline.

This is why studies show synephrine increases both basal metabolic rate and lipolysis, inhibits the activity of certain types of fat cell receptors that prevent fat mobilization, and increases the thermic effect of food (the “energy cost” of metabolizing food).

For example, in one study conducted by scientists at Creighton University Medical Center, researchers found that taking synephrine alone increased metabolic rate by 65 calories after 75 minutes, and adding two other natural compounds—naringin and hesperidin (also in Phoenix)—increased that number to a rather impressive 183 calories.

Furthermore, research shows that synephrine works synergistically with caffeine to enhance both caffeine’s and its own fat loss properties.

Synephrine is generally considered to be an appetite suppressant as well because anything that has the ability to increase catecholamine activity can also suppress hunger between meals (a component of the fight or flight response).

Clinically effective dosages of synephrine range from 25 to 50 mg per day, and a serving of Phoenix contains 834 mg of Advantra Z with 6 percent synephrine, providing 50 mg of synephrine.

Therefore, the 50 mg of synephrine in a serving of Phoenix is enough to safely increase metabolic rate and speed up fat loss.

600 Milligrams of Naringin

Naringin is a type of flavonoid found mostly in grapefruits, oranges, and the skin of tomatoes.

Flavonoids are colorful antioxidants produced by plants to attract pollinator animals and protect against disease and UV rays.

Research shows that naringin stimulates the production the hormone adiponectin, which is involved in the breakdown of fat cells, and activates a type of receptor in fat cells that regulates fat mobilization (the PPARα receptor).

Studies have also found that naringin works synergistically with synephrine and hesperidin, also found in the same types of fruits, to further accelerate basal metabolic rate.

The clinically effective dosage of naringin, when used in conjunction with synephrine and hesperidin, is 600 mg per day.

Therefore, the 600 mg of naringin in a serving of Phoenix is enough to increase metabolic rate and speed up fat loss, and especially because it’s paired with proper dosages of both synephrine and hesperidin.

400 Milligrams of Epigallocatechin Gallate (EGCG)

phoenix vs hydroxycut egcg

Epigallocatechin-3 gallate (EGCG) is a catechin found mostly in green tea that blocks the enzyme catechol-O-methyltransferase, which degrades adrenaline and noradrenaline.

We recall that these neurotransmitters release fatty acids from fat cells for burning and increase metabolic rate, so by preventing them from being destroyed, EGCG can speed up fat loss.

Furthermore, green tea catechins have been shown to help reduce abdominal fat in particular.

EGCG also increases the effectiveness of another ingredient in Phoenix, 5-HTP. 5-HTP must travel to the brain and be converted into serotonin to work, and EGCG prevents it from being converted in the blood, which would confer no benefits.

Clinically effective dosages of EGCG range from 50 to 1,000 mg per day, but 400 mg seems to be the lowest dose that reliably improves fat loss.

Therefore, the 400 mg of EGCG in a serving of Phoenix is enough to speed up fat loss and enhance the effectiveness of 5-HTP.

150 Milligrams of 5-HTP

5-HTP is a compound involved in the metabolism of the amino acid tryptophan, which is found in foods like milk, meat, potatoes, pumpkin, and various greens. 5-HTP is converted into serotonin in the brain, which is one of the principal neurotransmitters involved in feelings of happiness.

5-HTP is often taken instead of L-tryptophan as it can cross the blood-brain barrier (whereas L-tryptophan can’t), and it’s considered safer than oral serotonin supplements, which can cause heart disease in rats.

Research shows that, when taken with food, 5-HTP increases feelings of fullness and can help control food intake. Furthermore, studies have shown that 5-HTP can help reduce cravings for carbohydrates in particular.

Clinically effective dosages of 5-HTP range from 150 to 500 mg.

We intentionally chose the low end of this range for Phoenix because of the inclusion of hordenine, which magnifies 5-HTP’s effects by increasing the activity of serotonin in the brain.

Therefore, the 150 mg of 5-HTP in a serving of Phoenix is enough to reliably raise serotonin levels in the brain and increase feelings of satiety, which can help reduce appetite and cravings.

150 Milligrams of L-Tyrosine

L-tyrosine is an amino acid found in many high-protein foods such as poultry, fish, dairy products, and nuts.

As a supplement, it can reduce stress and improve mood and cognitive function, but only seems to confer these benefits during times of extreme stress such as prolonged cold or altitude exposure. It hasn’t been proven to do the same under normal conditions.

While unlikely, it’s possible that chronic stress, like low-calorie dieting and intense exercise, could deplete L-tyrosine levels over time. Studies on mice, for example, show that chronic stress can lower L-tyrosine levels, and that supplementing with L-tyrosine reverses these effects.

We included L-tyrosine in Phoenix in case this does indeed happen in humans. In other words, the L-tyrosine in Phoenix doesn’t guarantee any benefits, but it does guarantee you won’t develop a tyrosine deficiency while dieting.

Therefore, the 150 mg of L-tyrosine in a serving of Phoenix isn’t enough to reduce stress or improve cognition, but is enough to prevent an L-tyrosine deficiency while dieting, which is why it’s there.

120 Milligrams of Salicin

phoenix vs hydroxycut salicin

Salicin is an anti-inflammatory agent found in foods like berries, olives, and mushrooms, as well as the bark of the white willow tree.

Like aspirin, salicin is metabolized into salicylic acid in the body, which inhibits the production of prostaglandins. This, in turn, enhances the metabolic effects ephedrine and ephedrine-like compounds such as synephrine.

For example, aspirin combined with ephedrine causes 50% more fat loss in mice than ephedrine alone.

There aren’t many studies on salicin for this purpose, but it’s reasonable to assume it functions in much the same way as aspirin.

The clinically effective dosages of salicin range from 100 to 200 mg.

Therefore, the 120 mg of salicin in Phoenix is enough to amplify the effects of synephrine and further enhance fat loss.

100 Milligrams of Hesperidin

Like naringin, hesperidin is a type of flavonoid found in citrus fruits that can can reduce inflammation in blood vessels and decrease markers of cardiovascular disease.

Studies show that it also stimulates the production of adiponectin and activates the PPARa receptor in fat cells (like naringin). It works synergistically with synephrine and naringin to further raise basal metabolic rate, as well.

The clinically effective dosage of hesperidin, when used in conjunction with synephrine and naringin, is 100 mg per day.

Therefore, the 100 mg of hesperidin in a serving of Phoenix is enough to amplify the effects of synephrine and naringin and further increase metabolic rate, and thus speed up fat loss.

50 Milligrams of Forskolin

Forskolin is a molecule found in the Indian herb Coleus forskohlii, and it has long been used in Ayurvedic (Indian) medicine to treat heart and respiratory disorders.

Forskolin increases blood plasma and intracellular levels of the molecule cAMP (cyclic adenosine monophosphate), which functions as an intracellular “message relayer” vital to various biochemical processes including the regulation of glycogen, sugar, and lipid metabolism.

cAMP and ATP—adenosine triphosphate, the most basic form of cellular energy in the body—interact in a very simple yet powerful way in the cell:

When ATP is high, it indicates a plentiful energy state and tells the body to store nutrients and build tissues, but when cAMP is high, it signifies a lack of ATP and thus tells the body to produce energy by burning fat reserves.

Forskolin influences this relationship by activating the enzyme adenylyl cyclase, which converts ATP to cAMP. This initiates ATP-producing processes in the body, resulting in energy expenditure and fat burning.

This, in theory, should accelerate fat loss, and that’s exactly what’s been seen in human research.

For example, in one study conducted by scientists at the University of Kansas, people who took 25 mg of forskolin twice per day for 12 weeks lost about two pounds more than people who took placebo.

The same study found that forskolin can raise testosterone levels as well. The effect was too small to make any noticeable physiological difference (about 17%), but hey, we’ll take it.

The clinically effective dosage of forskolin isn’t entirely clear at this point, but 25 to 50 mg of per day has been shown to be effective. We also know that forskolin’s effects are amplified by synephrine.

Therefore, the 50 mg of forskolin in a serving of Phoenix is enough to speed up fat loss (and especially considering it also contains synephrine).

25 Milligrams of Hordenine

Hordenine is a molecule produced naturally in the body and found in certain foods including barley, millet, and sorghum.

It inhibits the activity of the enzyme monoamine oxidase, which breaks down certain neurotransmitters related to fat burning, including adrenaline.

In this way, hordenine allows fat-burning chemicals to remain in your blood for longer periods, resulting in more fat mobilization.

Unfortunately, hordenine is currently under-researched and therefore we can’t say for sure how well it may or may not ultimately help with fat loss, but we’ve included it in Phoenix as a “non-essential” ingredient because we believe there’s enough evidence to justify the decision.

Hordenine isn’t used clinically, but the nonclinical effective dosage ranges from 25 to 75 mg per day.

Therefore, the 25 mg of hordenine in Phoenix is enough to enhance the fat-burning effects of adrenaline and possibly speed up fat loss.

Do You Want 100% Natural Ingredients?

When it comes to choosing a fat-burner supplement, sometimes what isn’t in the product is just as important as what is.

In this case, Hydroxycut Hardcore Elite contains the artificial dyes FD&C Blue 1 (Brilliant Blue FCF), and Red 40 (Allura Red AC). Chemical food dyes aren’t as harmful as alarmists would have you believe, but there is evidence that they too may not be as safe for regular consumption as we once thought.

Phoenix is 100% natural, however, so it contains no artificial chemicals whatsoever.

The Bottom Line on Legion Phoenix vs. Muscletech Hydroxycut Hardcore Elite

As far as fat burners go, you can do worse than Hydroxycut Hardcore Elite.

It contains caffeine, forskolin, and yohimbine, which have been proven to accelerate fat loss. The doses of forskolin and yohimbine aren’t listed, though, and they may be too low to be effective or, in the case of yohimbine in particular, so high as to cause negative side effects.

The doses of L-theanine and cocoa extract in Hydroxycut Hardcore Elite are also likely too low to do much of anything for your body.

Lastly, Hydroxycut Hardcore Elite’s “key weight loss ingredient” (their words, not mine), green coffee bean extract, has never been proven to increase fat loss.

Phoenix, on the other hand, contains nine ingredients that are backed by sound scientific research and included at clinically effective levels, and that together can speed up your metabolism and fat loss and reduce hunger and cravings.

At the end of the day, the choice is yours.

If you don’t put much faith in the scientific literature or feel particularly drawn to Hydroxycut Hardcore Elite for whatever reason, then it may be the better choice for you.

If you want a 100% natural fat-burner with scientifically proven ingredients and dosages and nothing else, though, then Phoenix is for you.

legion phoenix vs hydroxycut elite

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What’s your take on Phoenix vs. Hydroxycut? Have anything else to share? Let me know in the comments below!