What Is the GOLO Diet?

Reviews, Tips, and Quick Facts

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In the market for a new weight loss program? You may have heard of the GOLO diet, a popular approach to dieting that became the most searched diet in 2016, according to a Google ranking. But just because a program is popular doesn't mean that it is effective. So does the GOLO diet work? Before you invest money in this (or any) diet program, take a good look at the research, total costs, and GOLO diet reviews before making a final decision.

What Is the GOLO Diet?

GOLO for Life is a weight loss program that claims to help you lose weight through insulin management. Dieters invest in a 30-, 60-, or 90-day GOLO Rescue Program that promises to help restore hormonal balance and repair metabolism. 

Each Rescue Program includes:

  • diet and lifestyle booklets, including "The Metabolic Fuel Matrix," a guidebook that explains the eating plan 
  • release weight loss supplement (a 30-, 60-, or 90-day supply)
  • access to support tools and services via the myGOLO.com website 

According to the company, the GOLO Rescue Plan was created by doctors, pharmacists, and nutritionists after doing "extensive research." The brand positions itself as a refreshing alternative to the traditional commercial diet industry because they say that you don't have to rely on calorie counting or consumption of diet foods to create weight loss. The company says it has helped over one million people successfully slim down.

How Does the Golo Diet Work?

You won't get a lot of information about how the GOLO diet works if you simply scan through the website. But if you look at the research provided (and conducted) by the company, you'll find details about what you will have to do to get weight loss results. 

You can expect to eat between 1300-1800 calories per day.

No foods are off limits, but you are supposed to eat three balanced meals every day. Restaurant dining is allowed as long as you follow the eating guidelines. Home meal prep guidance (in the booklets) and online recipes are provided.

As part of the calorie-restricted eating plan, dieters are also expected to practice portion control. Also, dieters who lost weight successfully were directed to participate in 15 minutes of exercise per day or 105 minutes per week and to "preferably exercise using high-intensity workouts (HIT)."

Lastly, dieters consume a supplement with each meal. The supplement is the cornerstone of the diet and, according to the company, is what makes the program different than others on the market.

Review of GOLO Release Ingredients

The GOLO weight loss supplement, Release, contains these three primary ingredients, according to the Nutrition Facts label on the product. 

  • Magnesium - an important essential mineral responsible for strong bones, a healthy heart, and good blood circulation. There is some research that suggests magnesium may be helpful in restoring insulin resistance in type 2 diabetics who are deficient, but there is no strong evidence to support its use by the general population for weight loss or improved metabolism. The recommended dietary allowance for magnesium ranges from 310 to 400 milligrams for most adults. Release provides 15 mg per tablet or 45 mg per day. You will also consume magnesium when you eat certain foods like almonds, spinach, and legumes. 
  • Zinc - an essential mineral that is found naturally in some foods. Limited studies have suggested that zinc supplementation may be helpful for weight loss, but even the scientists conducting research say that there is not enough evidence to know for sure. The National Institutes of Health cautions that getting too much may be harmful. The upper limit for adults is 40 milligrams per day. Release provides 10 mg per pill (30 mg if you take three pills daily). Eating certain foods like red meat, oysters, and fortified cereals and poultry will also boost your zinc intake. The NIH also says that zinc supplements may interfere with certain medications including certain antibiotics or medications used to treat rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Chromium- a mineral required by the body in small amounts. There is some evidence to support the use of a chromium supplement for improved glucose control, but the evidence is inconclusive, according to the National Institutes of Health. Strong evidence to support the use of chromium as a weight loss aid is lacking. There is no upper limit established for chromium, but the estimated safe and adequate daily dietary intake for chromium ranges from 20 mcg to 35 mcg for most adults. Release provides 70 mcg per pill or 210 mcg per day if you take as directed. Keep in mind that you will also get chromium in your diet if you eat common foods like broccoli, red wine, or whole grains.

Release ingredients also include a "proprietary blend" of several herbal compounds. Because it is a proprietary blend, the company does not disclose the amount of each herbal ingredient. As a consumer, this may make it difficult for you to discuss the supplement with your physician. Most health experts recommend that you discuss herbal supplements with your health care team to make sure that the products do not interfere with your current medications or the safe management of a health condition.

  • Rhodiola - a root extract that may help to reduce fatigue and improve exercise performance, but it may also cause you to feel dizzy or parched
  • Inositol - a nutrient that has been used in psychiatric settings to treat depression with some success
  • Berberine HCl (from barberry root) - an herbal ingredient that has been used with some success in treating several conditions including diabetes 
  • Gardenia extract - a fruit extract with limited research to support its use. There is a very small study that loosely suggests gardenia fruit extract supplements may be helpful for weight loss, but the research does not provide enough evidence to say for sure if gardenia extract can help you lose weight.
  • Banaba leaf extract - an herbal supplement that may help you lose weight or manage diabetes. There is little known, however, about the long-term use of the supplement. 
  • Salacia bark extract  - an herbal supplement that is sometimes used to manage diabetes. There is some research which suggests that it may help to manage blood sugar after eating, but no strong evidence to support its use for weight loss. 
  • Apple fruit extract - a supplement that boosts your intake of pectin, a form of soluble fiber. Soluble fiber can help you to feel full longer after eating, but you can get soluble and insoluble fiber naturally from foods. Increasing your fiber intake quickly can cause some short-term stomach problems.

The Total Cost of GOLO Diet

When you first start the GOLO diet, you'll make an initial investment based on the weight you want to lose and the amount of time you think you'll need to be on the diet.

If you have less weight to lose, a 30-day plan costs $49.95. A 60-day plan will cost $79.95, and a 90-day plan costs $99.95. This first purchase is exempt from shipping fees.

The plan recommends that you continue to take Release until you reach your goal weight. After you reach your goal, according to the website, you may want to continue to take the supplement. You are not automatically signed up for refills so you'll have to order again online or by phone. 

If you reorder the pills, you'll pay more than you paid for the initial supply. 

  • 1 bottle (30 day supply/90 count) costs $34.95 
  • 2 bottles (60 day supply/180 count) costs $59.90 
  • 3 bottles (90 day supply/270 count) costs $74.85 

Express shipping fees add an extra $19.95 per order.

GOLO Diet Reviews, Risks, and Research 

If you visit the GOLO diet website, there is a special section entitled GOLO Reviews. There, you'll find statements made by dieters and by doctors whose names, but not credentials, are listed. One of the GOLO reviews is by the diet's founder, Dr. Keith Ablow, a psychiatrist who does not list any experience with weight loss on his professional website. As a smart consumer, it's usually smart to look for diet reviews by noted experts in the field whose credentials you can verify.

The website also provides statements about the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). On the main page, there is a required statement explaining that "GOLO is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease and has not been evaluated by the FDA."  This may be confusing for some consumers who are also seeing statements on the same page about "healing metabolic dysfunction," and how the system can help to manage insulin, repair your metabolism, or balance hormones. 

Another concern is the lack of peer-reviewed research. When weight loss studies are published in peer-reviewed journals, the researchers generally have to follow certain guidelines to demonstrate that they have provided unbiased and well-designed evidence for their conclusions. Unfortunately, the research provided to support GOLO's effectiveness does not follow those rigorous guidelines and the studies have not been published in a scientific journal. 

Of course, the lack of strong GOLO reviews and/or research doesn't mean that the diet will fail or cause harm. But if you think that you have hormonal imbalances, a dysfunctional metabolism, or reduced sensitivity to insulin, it's probably safest to visit your own physician. You can also look for a board-certified weight loss doctor whose credentials you can verify.

So, Does the GOLO Diet Work?

Some people will probably lose weight successfully on the GOLO diet. But it's very likely that the weight loss results are due to simple caloric restriction combined with high-intensity exercise. When dieters consume 1300-1800 calories per day and burn a few hundred extra calories per day they are most likely producing the calorie deficit required for weight loss.

As a basis for comparison, the typical American man consumes 2,475 calories daily and women consume 1,833 calories per day according to data collected by the Centers for Disease Control. That means that a typical man on the GOLO diet would be reducing his intake by roughly 700 calories per day and a typical woman might be reducing her intake by about 500 calories per day. That caloric reduction alone would most likely produce a 1- to 2-pound weight loss per week.

The supplement may help you slim down faster, but there is no way to know for sure. Many of the ingredients have been studied and some show promise for people who are trying to slim down. But more evidence is needed before any of the ingredients become standard care for obesity or metabolic disorders.

A Word From Verywell

Finding the right diet is very, very hard. The process is complicated further when weight loss companies make claims that include complicated terminology and enticing claims. You can always turn to your health care team for guidance. If your physician can not provide weight loss advice, ask for a referral to a registered dietitian. These experts can help you sort through diet advertisements and make recommendations based on your health goals. You can also try to slim down without purchasing a plan. The GOLO diet includes portion control, calorie restriction, and regular exercise. Why not try these changes on your own? You may find that you gain a stronger, healthier body without the high price of a commercial plan.

Sources:

Barbagallo M, Dominguez LJ. Magnesium and type 2 diabetesWorld Journal of Diabetes. 2015;6(10):1152-1157.

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. About Herbs, Botanicals & Other Products. https://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/diagnosis-treatment/symptom-management/integrative-medicine/herbs

Mukai, T., Kishi, T., Matsuda, Y. and Iwata, N. (2014), A meta-analysis of inositol for depression and anxiety disorders. Hum. Psychopharmacol Clin Exp, 29: 55–63

Payahoo L, Ostadrahimi A, Mobasseri M, et al. Effects of Zinc Supplementation on the Anthropometric Measurements, Lipid Profiles and Fasting Blood Glucose in the Healthy Obese AdultsAdvanced Pharmaceutical Bulletin. 2013;3(1):161-165.

Shin JS, Huh YS. Effect of intake of gardenia fruits and combined exercise of middle-aged obese women on hormones regulating energy metabolismJournal of Exercise Nutrition & Biochemistry. 2014;18(1):41-49. doi:10.5717/jenb.2014.18.1.41.

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