There are numerous diets on the market, and one of the most recent, the GOLO diet, is gaining popularity. But what is the GOLO diet, and does it work as well as it claims? Here’s an outline of the GOLO diet, including the meal plan, cost, and time commitment required.
What Is the GOLO Diet Plan?
Unlike other diets, such as the keto or Mediterranean diet, the GOLO diet is a specific diet plan rather than a method of eating. While the GOLO diet allows you some flexibility regarding what you can eat, the plan requires a special supplement from GOLO, LLC, which invented the diet in 2009.
The assumption behind this diet is to gain weight loss by speeding up your metabolism by reducing insulin resistance (which causes a rise in blood sugar) to prevent health issues associated with weight gain.
According to the company’s website, the developers are “dedicated doctors, pharmacists, and researchers.” However, the only specific individuals identified are the CEO and president, who have backgrounds in sales and trade and are not doctors or registered dietitian nutritionists. No individual healthcare personnel is identified on the website.
“The GOLO diet is a weight loss approach designed to be used short-term,” says Vikki Petersen, a certified functional medicine practitioner who is also a certified clinical nutritionist and the founder and executive director of Root Cause Medical Clinic, which has clinics in California and Florida. “Its goal is to control your insulin levels, thereby normalizing your metabolism and hormones.” Programs range in length from 30 to 90 days.
The website provides little information regarding the GOLO diet’s specifics. Instead, you must purchase their supplement, Release, to access the “Metabolic Plan.” The goal of the GOLO diet, as Petersen notes, is to address and lower elevated blood sugar levels produced by insulin resistance, which is linked to the development of cardiovascular disease. GOLO claims to speed up your metabolism and result in fat loss by addressing insulin resistance (in part with the supplement).
How Does the GOLO Diet Work?
According to GOLO’s plan, you “stop dieting.” Instead, you take Release, which the company claims helps balance insulin, causing your body to lose weight without needing calorie counting or a restrictive diet. Many diets have a few suggested foods as well as some forbidden foods.
While the website lists research verifying the safety of Release and the efficacy of the GOLO diet for weight loss, it’s essential to note that both pilot studies and those published are funded or supported in some way by GOLO, and the subject pools were quite tiny.
People on the GOLO diet are given booklets that outline the metabolic program, which involves eating 1,300 to 1,800 calories per day over three meals (a Release capsule follows each meal). While everyone follows the same meal rules, your caloric intake is founded on gender, age, current weight, and activity level. GOLO also advises encouraging you to eat more healthy foods (such as fruits, vegetables, eggs, meats, and grains) while avoiding sugar and processed foods. It reassures you that you can eat out while on the plan. Exercise should last at least 15 minutes per day.
Extra considerations should be made before beginning a diet plan if you have pre-existing conditions.
“Important considerations include kidney function—you don’t want to do too increased protein if kidney function is impaired,” says Melina B. Jampolis, M.D., a Forbes Health Advisory Board member who operates a small private nutrition practice in Los Angeles. “If you are taking insulin or an oral diabetes medication, it may need to be adjusted as you lose weight or make major modifications to your diet to avoid your blood sugar dropping too low.”
What Is the GOLO Diet Supplement?
The GOLO diet can only be discussed with including Release, the diet’s approved supplement. The first thing to note is that while the supplement was made in an FDA-regulated laboratory, the FDA cannot regulate dietary supplements and hence cannot prove the safety or efficacy of its claims. The supplement claims to aid healthy weight loss by increasing metabolism, stabilizing insulin levels, and giving additional benefits, including increased energy, decreased hunger, and reduced stress and anxiety.
The Release is made up of “seven natural, plant-based ingredients and three minerals,” which include:
- Rhodiola extract
- Berberine extract
- Gardenia extract
- Banaba extract
- Salacia extract
- Apple extract
The FDA has determined that these ingredients are generally safe.
According to Petersen, many of the minerals and ingredients in Release need to be increased to reverse mineral deficiency or enhance impact. She notably notes that apple extract, which contains fiber, is the last element on the unique blend ingredient list, indicating a lower concentration in the supplement. “Maintaining optimal levels of these minerals is a fine idea, but there’s nothing particularly special or weight loss-stimulating in the formula,” she adds.
Because these ingredients are usually considered safe, you should exercise caution when taking the supplement, especially if you have a pre-existing ailment like diabetes that requires medication to address.
“People should not assume that just because a supplement is natural, it is safe for everyone and will not interact with other medications or cause side effects,” says Dr. Jampolis. To ensure that what they are taking is safe for them, they should talk to their pharmacist or [or physician].
Foods to Eat on the GOLO Diet
Petersen deconstructs the foods highlighted on the GOLO diet, which can be found in a pamphlet provided free with the purchase of Release:
- Animal protein: beef, chicken, pork, eggs, milk, cheese and yogurt
- Seafood: fresh or frozen
- Healthy fats: coconut oil, olive oil, chia seeds, hemp seeds and flax seeds
- Whole grains: brown rice and quinoa
- Legumes: pinto, black and garbanzo beans
- Other vegetables: potatoes, sweet potatoes and winter squash
- Fresh fruit: especially berries
- Green vegetables: asparagus, broccoli, kale and zucchini
- Nuts: almonds, walnuts and cashews
The encouraged foods are entire and unprocessed, and Petersen adds that the list covers most general dietary groups. However, she has some concerns about some of GOLO’s recommendations, such as how it prioritizes animal protein but does not take advice on the type and quality of that protein. Petersen also notes that there are no specifics on food quality emphasized in other categories, such as seafood, which can sometimes contain high levels of mercury and be harmful to young children, women who plan to become pregnant, are pregnant, or are breastfeeding, according to the Food and Drug Administration.
Foods to Avoid on the GOLO Diet Plan
The following foods are prohibited on the GOLO diet:
- Added sugar
- Artificial sweeteners
- Sweet baked goods and sweetened beverages
- Processed foods, such as sausages, lunch meats and plant-based meat substitutes
- Refined foods
- White bread
Overall, this list includes foods that have been related to ill health and inflammation. These foods are just discouraged, as the GOLO diet emphasizes that it does not restrict foods. GOLO notes that even when considering eating out, you must adhere to its standards to avoid “sabotage your efforts.”
Indeed, Dr. Jampolis notes that additional sugars can cause insulin resistance, which is a major theory underlying the GOLO diet and its supplement. She notes that packaged snacks, breakfast cereals, sweetened fruit yogurt, and dairy items are some leading sources of added sugars.
How Much Does the GOLO Diet Cost?
The GOLO diet plan is “free,” but you must purchase the Release supplement to view the details of the eating plan.
A bottle of 90 Release capsules costs $49.95, and GOLO recommends one capsule with each meal. As a result, one bottle will last around four weeks. If you buy numerous bottles at once, you can enjoy a discount.
Health Benefits of the GOLO Diet
The FDA considers the ingredients in the Release supplement to be safe—and following the “Metabolic Plan” may help individuals build and maintain healthy habits after they stop taking Release. However, like with any diet, the outcomes and advantages will differ from person to person.
“Certainly, emphasizing whole foods and healthy fats, as well as encouraging exercise, are all well-established healthy lifestyle elements,” Petersen notes.
Potential Risks of the GOLO Diet
Aside from minor hazards for people with diabetes, there are no genuine risks associated with the GOLO diet. Individuals should talk to their doctors before beginning any diet, though. The GOLO diet’s main flaw is a lack of tangible evidence of its efficacy—GOLO funds all relevant research—so weight loss claims of 1 to 2 pounds per week are unsubstantiated. Still, this rate of weight loss is safer than diets that promise speedy and huge weight loss.
Petersen states, “Most health websites state that the product/site is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.” “The GOLO website has this statement, but it also claims to heal metabolic dysfunction,’ which could be misleading.”
Furthermore, no indication of how long weight loss results (if any) will persist due to a lack of research. GOLO notes that most people take Release for three to six months, and it’s unknown if any weight loss is retained after that time.
“In general, reducing overall calories—the program reduces the average man’s intake by 700 calories and a woman’s intake by 500 calories—eliminating ’empty calories’ associated with sweets and baked goods and improving your exercise will likely result in weight loss for many who try it,” adds Petersen. “But whether it will be stable and long-lasting is another question, and there has been no research on this program to provide that data.”
Regarding the diet’s termination, GOLO’s website notes that because Release is safe for long-term usage, “you can take it as long as you want or phase out as your metabolism enhances and you reach your goal weight.” Some people continue on a lesser dosage when they reach their goal.”
Is the GOLO Diet Right for You?
As with any diet, you should contact your physician or a nutritionist to see if the GOLO diet fits your current health and fitness goals. While the diet suggestions and ingredients in Release are generally safe, there is no specific evidence that the GOLO diet is more effective than other diets for weight loss.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Where can you buy GOLO Release pills?
The GOLO Release supplement is available for purchase on the GOLO website. The company now sells one bottle of 90 capsules for $49.95, two for $79.90, and three for $99.90.
What is the main ingredient in the GOLO Release pills?
The GOLO Release supplement contains seven plant-based ingredients and three minerals. It contains magnesium, zinc, chromium, and a special blend of ingredients that includes Rhodiola extract and apple extract.
How many GOLO release pills should you take a day?
GOLO suggests taking one capsule three times daily, during or after each meal, though the dose may vary based on how much weight you want to lose. According to the company, full dosing instructions are given with the purchase of the supplement.