What Is the GOLO Diet?

golo diet

Verywell / Debbie Burkhoff 

At Verywell, we believe there is no one-size-fits-all approach to a healthy lifestyle. Successful eating plans need to be individualized and take the whole person into consideration. Prior to starting a new diet plan, consult with your healthcare provider or a registered dietitian, especially if you have an underlying health condition.

What Is the GOLO Diet?

The GOLO diet is a popular short-term approach to weight loss that claims to promote weight loss through insulin management. Customers invest in a 30-, 60-, or 90-day GOLO Metabolic Plan that promises to help restore hormonal balance and repair metabolism

The principles of this eating plan include limiting calories, portion sizes, processed foods, and adding exercise. It also calls for the use of a proprietary supplement called Release, which is intended to aid the weight loss process.

A 30-day supply of Release costs $59.95. If you order a 60- or 90-day supply all at once, you can save $20 or $60, respectively. You only get access to the meal plans, recipes, one-on-one coaching, online resources, and tools and support by buying the Release pills.

What Experts Say

"The GOLO diet focuses on a calorie-controlled plan with unprocessed foods, along with regular exercise. These core principles are solid and can help people lose weight. However, experts disagree that the 'Release' supplement (sold as an adjunct to the diet) is necessary."
Chrissy Carroll, RD, MPH

The 7-Day Diet Plan

The GOLO diet recommends eating three meals per day along with the Release supplement that’s taken either before or after each meal, ideally with a glass of water. Each meal consists of one or two foods from each of the diet's four "fuel groups": protein, carbohydrates (i.e., fruit or whole grains), vegetables, and healthy fats.

Note that this is not an all-inclusive meal plan, and if you do follow this diet, there may be other meals that work better for you.

  • Day 1: 2 eggs over-easy, 1 piece multigrain toast with grass-fed butter; 1 serving spring vegetable quinoa salad, 3 ounces grilled or sauteed chicken breast; 4-ounce serving of grilled salmon kebabs with dill yogurt sauce, 1/2 cup lentils
  • Day 2: Avocado and egg toast, 1/2 cup plain yogurt topped with fresh fruit and low-sugar granola; 3/4 cup roasted beet and feta salad, 1 serving of hummus with veggies and whole-grain crackers; 1 serving roasted chicken with turmeric and fennel, 1 serving Mediterranean salad with cauliflower tabouleh
  • Day 3: California summer vegetable omelet, 1/2 cup serving of cottage cheese, matcha green mango smoothie; avocado chicken salad served with mesclun greens or wheat toast, apple with almond butter; 1 serving scallops with green beans and corn sauteed in olive oil, 1/2 cup brown rice
  • Day 4: Baked eggs with red cabbage, 1/2 cup berries; tuna salad with roasted fennel and orange salsa, 1/2 cup brown rice; habanero cheese grits with blackened fish, side garden salad with olive oil dressing
  • Day 5: Maple pumpkin pie buckwheat groats, 1/2 cup Greek yogurt, 1/2 cup berries; kale and lentil stuffed sweet potato, 1 serving of hummus with veggies; butternut squash grain bowl, 4 ounces grilled chicken breast
  • Day 6: Savory spinach and feta oatmeal bowl; beef, brown rice, and mushroom soup, whole-grain roll with butter; stir fry with ginger, chicken, asparagus, and brown rice
  • Day 7: Antioxidant berry smoothie, 2 boiled eggs; whole-grain pita tuna pockets, side garden salad with olive oil dressing; chicken caesar salad, whole-grain roll, apple


What You Can Eat

All of the macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates, and fats) are represented in the GOLO diet. Along with vegetables, these make up the diet's four "fuel groups."

Healthy Fats

Protein

  • Chicken breast
  • Sirloin steak
  • Lean cuts of pork
  • White fish

Carbohydrates

The GOLO diet recommends whole grains in place of refined grains and includes starchy vegetables in this "fuel group."

Vegetables and Fruit

All vegetables can be eaten on the GOLO diet. Fruit is encouraged, particularly berries:

  • Raspberries
  • Blueberries
  • Blackberries
  • Leafy greens
  • Broccoli
  • Zucchini
  • Asparagus

What You Cannot Eat

As many weight-loss plans do, the GOLO diet restricts processed and refined foods, along with added sweeteners (including sugar substitutes). The diet encourages followers to stick with so-called "whole foods" whenever possible.

Processed and Refined Foods

  • Processed meats such as sausage, hot dogs, lunch meat
  • Refined foods such as white bread
  • Plant-based meat substitutes
  • Chips, crackers

Added Sugars and Sweeteners

  • Soda
  • Sweetened coffee beverages
  • Sports drinks
  • Cake, pies, cookies, and candy

How to Prepare the GOLO Diet & Tips

You can expect to eat between 1,300 and 1,800 calories per day on the GOLO diet, emphasizing whole foods like meat, whole grains, healthy fats, vegetables, and fruits.

Restaurant dining is allowed as long as you follow the eating guidelines. Home meal prep guidance and online recipes are provided. As part of the calorie-restricted eating plan, followers of the diet plan are also expected to practice portion control.

The company also recommends taking the GOLO Release supplement while on the diet. The supplement is the cornerstone of the diet and, according to the company, is what makes the program different from others on the market.

The eating plan on the GOLO diet calls for three balanced meals every day, each made up of one or two portions from the diet's "fuel groups." For most people, one Release capsule is taken during or just after each meal. Along with the supplement, the GOLO diet Metabolic Plan includes a guidebook that explains the eating plan and access to support tools and services on the myGOLO.com website.

The GOLO website doesn't provide much information about the eating plan. But if you look at the research provided and conducted by the company, you'll find additional details about what you can and cannot eat.

GOLO Release Supplement Nutrition Facts

According to the Nutrition Facts label on the product, the GOLO supplement contains three primary ingredients: magnesium, zinc, and chromium.

Magnesium

Some research suggests magnesium may help restore insulin resistance in type 2 diabetics who are deficient, but there is no substantial evidence to support its use by the general population for weight loss or improved metabolism. The release provides 15mg per tablet or 45mg per day, about 4% of the recommended daily value.

Zinc

Zinc is an essential mineral that is found naturally in some foods. Limited studies have suggested that zinc supplementation may be helpful for weight loss. The upper limit for adults is 40mg per day. The release provides 10mg per pill (30mg total if you take three pills daily as advised).

Chromium

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), there is some evidence to support using a chromium supplement for improved glucose control. Still, the evidence is inconclusive. Strong evidence to support 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 20mcg to 35mcg for most adults. The supplement provides 70mcg chromium per pill (210mcg per day).

Most health experts recommend that you discuss supplements with your healthcare team to make sure that the products don't interfere with your current medications or the safe management of a health condition.

Herbs

The product also includes a "proprietary blend" of several herbal compounds. The company does not disclose the amount of each herbal ingredient, but the following are listed below in the order in which they appear on the label:

  • Rhodiola: This root extract may help to reduce fatigue and improve exercise performance but may also cause dizziness or dry mouth.
  • Inositol: Research in people with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) has shown some weight loss effects from inositol. But it's not known if these effects are limited to people with PCOS.
  • Berberine HCl (from barberry root): An herbal ingredient, it's been used with some success in treating several conditions, including diabetes.
  • Gardenia extract: There is limited research to support the use of this fruit extract. A very small study loosely suggests gardenia fruit extract supplements may be helpful for weight loss. Still, the research does not provide enough evidence to say if gardenia extract can help you lose weight.
  • Banaba leaf extract: Banaba may help with weight loss and the management of diabetes. However, the study that made this connection is on the older side, and there is little known about the long-term use of the supplement. 
  • Salacia bark extract: This herbal supplement is sometimes used to manage diabetes. Some research suggests that it may help control blood sugar after eating, but no substantial evidence supports its use for weight loss. 
  • Apple fruit extract: This supplement boosts your intake of pectin, a form of soluble fiber. Soluble fiber can help you feel full longer after eating, but you can naturally get soluble and insoluble fiber from foods. Increasing your fiber intake quickly can cause some short-term stomach problems.

The plan recommends that you continue to take the Release supplement until you reach your goal weight. After you reach your goal, according to the website, you may want to continue to take the supplement, perhaps in a lower dose—though it is probably not necessary.

Sample Shopping List

The GOLO diet encourages the consumption of natural, whole foods. The following shopping list provides an overview of the food items that might make your shopping list on the GOLO diet, from lean proteins to loads of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

Note that this is not a definitive shopping list, and you may find other foods that work better for you while you're following the GOLO diet.

  • Lean red meat, chicken, pork tenderloin 
  • Fresh or frozen seafood
  • Milk, cheese, yogurt, and eggs
  • Whole grains like brown rice and quinoa
  • Legumes including chickpeas and black or pinto beans
  • Fresh fruit such as berries
  • Potatoes, sweet potatoes, and winter squash
  • Green vegetables like asparagus, broccoli, kale, and zucchini
  • Nuts including almonds, walnuts, and cashews

Pros of the GOLO Diet

While there is little independent research to prove the GOLO diet's effectiveness, the eating plan itself is generally considered safe if followed correctly. There are several potential benefits.

  • Encourages healthy foods: The GOLO diet emphasizes whole foods over processed foods, encourages healthy fats, minimizes added sugars, all of which are expert-endorsed approaches to healthy weight loss.
  • Adaptable for dietary needs: The company assures that the GOLO diet can be modified to meet special dietary needs and preferences. The Release supplement is free of gluten and all major allergens. But you should consult your doctor before taking it or any supplement if it might interact with any medications you are taking or complicate a medical condition. People who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not take Release.
  • Provides nutrient-dense whole foods: The GOLO diet eating plan recommends eating whole foods and seeking nutrient-dense options, like leafy green vegetables and whole grains, which are healthy for any balanced diet.
  • Encourages exercise: Regular exercise is an essential component of any weight-loss plan. The GOLO diet acknowledges this and encourages its followers to exercise. During the company's research, participants were directed to participate in 15 minutes of exercise per day or 105 minutes per week and "preferably exercise using high-intensity workouts."
  • May lead to weight loss: Some people will probably lose weight successfully on the GOLO diet. But the weight loss results are likely due to simple caloric restriction combined with high-intensity exercise. When people consume 1,300 to 1,800 calories and burn a few hundred extra calories per day, they most likely produce the calorie deficit required for weight loss.

Cons of the GOLO Diet

While the GOLO diet includes proven, safe weight-loss strategies, there is little evidence that its supplement is necessary or effective.

  • Not clearly backed by science: When weight loss studies are published in peer-reviewed journals, the researchers generally have to follow specific guidelines to demonstrate that they have provided unbiased and well-designed evidence for their conclusions. The research provided to support GOLO's effectiveness does not follow those rigorous guidelines. 
  • Unfounded health claims: The GOLO website includes a statement required by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) 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 also see statements on the page about "healing metabolic dysfunction" and how the system can help to manage insulin, repair your metabolism, or balance hormones. 
  • Supplement required: Many of the individual ingredients in the GOLO proprietary supplement have been studied, and some show promise for people trying to lose weight. But more evidence is needed before any of the ingredients become standard care for obesity or metabolic disorders.

Is the GOLO Diet a Healthy Choice for You?

The Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends filling your plate with a balanced mix of protein, grains, fruits, vegetables, and dairy products for most meals. The GOLO diet generally aligns with this approach, although it suggests eating foods from one or two of the "fuel groups" at each meal. Over a day or week, the diet should provide adequate nutrition, depending on followers' choices.

The typical American male consumes 2,475 calories daily. For women, the number is 1,833 calories, according to data collected by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). That means that a typical man on the GOLO diet would reduce his intake by roughly 700 calories per day, and a woman might reduce hers by about 500 calories per day. This is also in line with USDA's advice for weight loss in its Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

However, the diet's food plan is not as simple as it may seem at first glance. Followers must determine what to eat based on the plan's "metabolic fuel matrix" (included in the guidebook provided when you buy the Release supplement), which includes such factors as regular physical activity, "personal metabolic rates," and the "fuel values" of particular foods.

Despite the lack of strong evidence, impartial GOLO reviews, and independent research, the GOLO diet will not necessarily fail or cause harm. If you think that you have hormonal imbalances, a dysfunctional metabolism, or reduced sensitivity to insulin, however, it's probably safest to visit a healthcare professional before trying the GOLO diet. You can also look for a board-certified weight loss doctor whose credentials you can verify.

A Word From Verywell

Finding the right diet can be difficult. The process is complicated further when weight loss companies make enticing claims that include complicated terminology but little evidence to back them up. The GOLO diet's basic premises are similar to standard nutrition advice and government guidelines, but the proprietary supplement is not. Before you invest money in this (or any) diet program, take a good look at the research, costs, and nutrition.

Remember, following a long-term or short-term diet may not be necessary for you, and many diets out there simply don’t work, especially long-term. While we do not endorse fad diet trends or unsustainable weight loss methods, we present the facts so you can make an informed decision that works best for your nutritional needs, genetic blueprint, budget, and goals.

If your goal is weight loss, remember that losing weight isn’t necessarily the same as being your healthiest self, and there are many other ways to pursue health. Exercise, sleep, and other lifestyle factors also play a major role in your overall health. The best diet is always the one that is balanced and fits your lifestyle.

12 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Malia Frey
 Malia Frey is a weight loss expert, certified health coach, weight management specialist, personal trainer​, and fitness nutrition specialist.