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What Is the GOLO Diet? Here Are the Pros, Cons, Cost, and Effectiveness for Weight Loss

It centers on the idea that metabolic dysfunction is the underlying cause of weight gain.


Finding a weight loss strategy that works can be overwhelming. There are so many diet plans and so much weight loss information — and not all of it’s good. In fact, some fad diets and weight loss advice can actually be harmful to your health. Keto? Paleo? Mediterranean? Not all of these weight loss-specific meal plans were created equal.

Weight management is not easy, particularly as we age, and many dieters are tired of cutting carbs, avoiding food groups, and living on brown rice and veggies alone. There is, however, a new diet plan in town, and it’s quite a bit different than the fad diets you’re used to. The GOLO Diet, also known as the GOLO Metabolic Plan, is a weight loss program that encourages focusing on individual metabolic health and supporting the body’s ability to regulate insulin levels. Keep reading for a closer look at the GOLO Diet, its pros and cons, associated costs, and whether or not it might help you lose weight.

What is the GOLO Diet?

The GOLO Diet, or GOLO Metabolic Plan, was developed by a pharmacist named Jennifer Brooks. Brooks struggled with weight issues and was frustrated by the lack of effective weight-loss programs. Rather than giving up on her weight loss goals, she partnered with a group of doctors and pharmacists to build a weight loss plan based on metabolic health. The result was the GOLO Diet program.

The connection between insulin resistance and weight isn’t revolutionary, but the GOLO program puts a new spin on it. The GOLO weight loss plan centers on the idea that metabolic dysfunction is the underlying cause of weight gain. Rather than focusing on cutting calories, bulking up, or shedding fat, the GOLO Diet posits that you can lose weight more effectively in the short term (and keep it off in the long term) by improving your metabolic health.

The GOLO Diet is designed to help people maintain balanced blood sugar levels by eating foods that are low in sugar and high in fiber. For this reason, the program emphasizes regular exercise and eating whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and healthy fats. Finally, one of the program’s core elements is taking a natural dietary supplement called Release to support weight loss. The GOLO release supplement is exclusively manufactured and sold by GOLO.

The GOLO Diet was introduced to the public in 2009. Since then, it’s gained a following of loyal fans who swear by its effectiveness. The program has also received endorsements from celebrities such as Dr. Oz and Montel Williams. Reviews from health experts, however, are mixed.

How does the GOLO Diet work?

So what exactly makes this diet plan work? The program is based on the idea that metabolic dysfunction is the underlying cause of weight gain. When your metabolism functions properly, your body burns calories more efficiently, thus prompting weight loss. Conversely, when your metabolism is dysfunctional, your body cannot burn calories as it should. In some people, this makes it difficult to gain weight; for others, keeping weight off is the issue.

The GOLO Diet aims to improve metabolic health by focusing on three pillars: diet, exercise, and supplements. As mentioned above, the program recommends eating foods that are low in sugar and high in fiber to help balance blood sugar levels and curb cravings.

In addition to diet and exercise, the GOLO Diet recommends taking a plant-based supplement called Release. Release is sold exclusively by the GOLO Diet, and GOLO claims it supports weight loss by promoting healthy insulin levels and reducing cravings. The supplement contains natural ingredients such as magnesium, zinc, and chromium, which are believed to support metabolic health. Other ingredients include plant extracts like:

  • Banaba leaf extract
  • Rhodiola Rosea
  • Berberine extract
  • Salacia extract
  • Gardenia extract
  • Inositol
  • Apple extract

There’s no doubt that magnesium, zinc, and chromium are important minerals for a healthy diet. Additionally, some evidence suggests there may be benefits to consuming banaba leaf extract and Rhodiola Rosea, at least in participants with high blood sugar. 

This evidence, however, is not verified, and the GOLO Diet has received mixed reviews from the nutrition and medical communities. Some experts believe that the program’s emphasis on whole foods and exercise is a healthy weight-loss approach, while others are skeptical of the program’s claims about metabolic dysfunction. Still, many who have tried the program report significant weight loss and improved overall health. It’s possible that as with other weight loss programs, results vary by individual.

Pros of the GOLO Diet

The main benefit of the GOLO Diet is its focus on whole foods instead of processed foods. This diet plan discourages eating the following:

  • Artificial sweeteners and added sugar
  • Sweetened drinks or baked goods
  • White bread
  • Processed meats, such as lunch meats

Scientists and health experts have long known that whole foods like whole grains, quinoa, fruits, dark leafy vegetables, nuts, and seeds are generally better for your health than processed foods. By encouraging people to focus on these whole foods, the GOLO Diet promotes more balanced meals.

Along with healthy eating, this diet plan also encourages regular exercise, which fires up your metabolism to burn more throughout the day. It also promotes the healthy mindset required for sticking to a diet plan. After all, half the battle is staying with it.

Caloric Restriction: A Gray Area

Another large part of this diet is calorie restriction. While on the GOLO Diet, participants are limited to 1300 to 1500 calories per day, significantly less than the average American’s caloric intake. This is both a benefit and a disadvantage. On the one hand, calorie restriction is a surefire way to lose weight in the short term, especially when the calories one does consume are primarily whole foods.

On the other hand, calorie restriction can be difficult to maintain in the long term. It may lead to binge eating or other unhealthy eating patterns, and it can contribute to weight gain as soon as you return to your recommended daily calorie intake. Thus, the GOLO Diet could be unsustainable (although the GOLO for Life plan aims to make it easier to commit to GOLO for longer).

Cons of the GOLO Diet

There are drawbacks to the GOLO Diet — in addition to the calorie restriction and sustainability issues. As earlier mentioned, the evidence supporting the health benefits of the Release supplement is not solid. Many doctors and health experts remain skeptical of its efficacy, especially for people with type 2 diabetes who already struggle with their insulin levels.

According to the GOLO website, the Release supplement may help support lower blood sugar levels. While this is, on the surface, a positive side effect, it could be dangerous when combined with an existing medication protocol. If you have concerns, talk to your doctor before starting this or any diet.

How much does the GOLO Diet cost?

Following the general health advice and structure of the GOLO Diet is free. However, you must buy the Release supplement to access the eating plan. One bottle of 90 Release supplement tablets is $49.95, which lasts approximately one month when you follow the instructions. 

Is the GOLO Diet right for me?

Diet plans and weight loss strategies are personal. That’s because your metabolism depends on many factors, including your age, gender, lifestyle, and history of disease. No one but you can decide which diet plan is right for you.

Some people love having a regimented plan with strict guidelines about what they can and cannot eat, others don’t do well with calorie or food restrictions. For the former group, diet plans like the GOLO Diet may help them shed weight and keep it off. The latter group, however, may find that it worsens their cravings or that they simply can’t sustain it for the time needed to lose significant weight. In this case, a different weight loss approach may be more appropriate. 

Neither strategy is right nor wrong. The best diet plan for you is one that you can stick to without feeling miserable or constantly wanting to give up.

Other Weight Loss Strategies

The GOLO Diet isn’t the only diet plan, of course. If you struggle with following strict rules, there are other ways to lose weight. 

Perhaps there’s a salad you love or a way of cooking broccoli that makes you crave it. Or maybe starting your day with a smoothie is an easy way to sneak some healthy foods into your diet. Don’t focus on restricting yourself – instead, try to pack your diet with as many vegetables, lean proteins, and other healthy foods as possible. Doing so will make your diet more conducive to weight loss. 

Similarly, finding an exercise routine that you love can help make regular exercise easier. The key to making a weight loss strategy stick is finding ways to improve its long-term sustainability. And the secret to that is identifying foods and workouts that you enjoy. It won’t feel like work if you’re having fun!

Finally, if you’re struggling with weight loss or are worried about your blood sugar or blood pressure, don’t hesitate to contact your doctor or other healthcare professional. No diet plan can replace the advice of a professional, and in some cases, a diet may actually make your situation worse. Getting the advice of a medical expert is always a good idea. 

The Bottom Line

At the end of the day, the best weight loss strategy is the one that works for you. Maybe that’s the GOLO Diet; maybe it’s not. Everyone is different, and so are the diet plans that work for us. Make the choice that feels most right to you.

This content is not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. Always consult your physician before pursuing any treatment plan.

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