If you’ve heard of the GOLO diet, you might wonder if it’s a trustworthy plan or just another fad. Here’s what science has to say.
Despite endless diets and supplements on the market, some always manage to cut through the noise and make a splash. The GOLO diet was Google’s most-searched diet in 2016, and its momentum has remained strong ever since.
But how many of GOLO’s big claims are backed by science, and how much is hype? Let’s hear what scientists, researchers, and doctors say about this popular weight loss option.
The GOLO diet was launched in 2009. In a nutshell, GOLO claims to help people lose weight by controlling glucose and maintaining healthy insulin levels. Those following the plan eat only 1,300–1,500 nutritionally “dense calories” daily and take a dietary supplement called Release with meals.
Insulin indeed regulates blood glucose, and insulin resistance is an indicator of type 2 diabetes. GOLO claims that their Release supplement reverses insulin resistance, helping your body burn stored-up fat.
Your first purchase of Release comes with a handy booklet guiding you through what to eat while on the diet. Whole, unprocessed foods are the order of the day, including:
- fresh fruits
- green vegetables
- healthy fats like olive oil, chia seeds, hemp, and flax seeds
- nuts and seeds
- potatoes, sweet potatoes, and squash
- protein like beef, cheese, chicken, eggs, pork, milk, and yogurt
- whole grains
The foods you eat on a GOLO diet are all solid choices.
Whole foods are known to promote healthy outcomes in the long term. Prioritizing fruit, veg, proteins, and nuts in your diet is a safe recommendation for most people.
There are two potential cons to consider if you’re thinking about trying GOLO: excess calorie deficit and the Release supplement.
Can GOLO make you drop too many calories?
GOLO requires you to eat between 1,300–1,500 calories per day. That could be too few for some people. The generally accepted safe daily calorie deficit for healthy weight loss is around 300–500.
So, to sustainably lose weight, a man would usually be advised to eat 2,000 calories daily. For women, it’s 1,500 calories or less. But obvi, your own unique physiology is going to affect that ideal number.
GOLO, meanwhile, makes a blanket recommendation for everyone. That recommendation of 1,300–1,500 calories is way below what most people would be safely advised to eat daily. For some, this could be a dangerously low intake of nutrition.
What’s in the GOLO Release supplement?
GOLO’s Release supplement is made up of seven plant and three mineral ingredients:
- apple extract
- banaba leaf extract
- berberine extract
- gardenia extract
- Rhodiola Rosea
- Salacia extract
Some of these ingredients, like banaba leaf, have some limited evidence to support a role in healthy weight loss. More data is needed before these will find a regular home in mainstream diet supplements.
Other ingredients have no evidence supporting them or suggest adverse side effects. Chromium, for example, is said to play a debatable role in weight loss. But, it has been linked to potential nausea, constipation, or headaches in high enough doses.
The release also makes several grand claims, like reducing fatigue, lowering stress, and maintaining normal DNA synthesis.
PSA: None of these supplements are backed by credible evidence. Plus, at $59.95 per 90-capsule bottle, the cost of taking one pill with every meal could stack up over time.
It’s hard to recommend a diet that makes sweeping generalizations about something as important as calorie intake. Add some suspect supplementation into the mix, and GOLO doesn’t come out of this analysis looking too great.
However, its focus on whole, unprocessed foods is a worthy takeaway. Everything GOLO recommends you eat is good stuff. But be sure you’re getting enough nutrition to keep you safe and healthy.