Simple Fitness, Food and Health Hacks

Hey, I'm Julien. Each week I share a newsletter designed to make you fitter. It's short, smart and actionable16k read it, I'd love you to join too. It's free.

The GOLO Diet – What is it, Does it Work and is it Worth it?

 Written by 

Julien Raby

 Last updated on 

We may receive a commission from our affiliate links at no additional cost to you. See disclosures page.


The GOLO diet is a weight loss program. It claims to help followers lose significant amounts of weight by addressing insulin sensitivity and improving metabolic health. Users (apparently) manage to do this by purchasing a plant and mineral-based supplement called ‘Release’ from GOLO, and taking it daily.

They do this alongside a diet recommended by the GOLO team. 

Typical golo diet meal in a plate
  • Save

In this article we’re going to dig into the GOLO diet and weight loss plan. We’ll look at the dietary supplement, the scientific evidence and the apparent health benefits of the GOLO weight loss program. We’ll see if this approach to weight loss is any more effective than other diets out there.

We’ll see if it’s safe, effective and whether the claims stack up.  

Finally, all claims and suggestions made here are going to be evidence-based. We’re taking a completely unbiased approach to this review. We don’t sell any nutrition products. We’re here to give you the best possible advice, and steer you clear of bad approaches.

So, the GOLO diet. What is it, does it work and is it worth it? Let’s find out…

Overview of the GOLO diet

The GOLO diet promises weight loss and improved metabolic health. It combines a specific dietary approach with a self-developed supplement called ‘Release’. Users buy Release from GOLO, and combine it with a diet plan from them.

The GOLO approach centres around the notion that insulin control is key to weight loss. The theory is that when you control insulin, you control fat loss. The way to control insulin is to eat a low carbohydrate diet. Advice tells you to avoid processed sugars etc. Some practitioners even extend this to rice, pasta, bread, fruit, potatoes etc. 

This approach has been studied extensively, and whilst it gained some traction, the overarching opinion in the nutrition community is that calorie control is more important than the macronutrient profile of the diet, assuming there are no associated issues (diabetes etc).

Even research that supports insulin control for fat loss admits to ensuring study participants are eating a calorie controlled diet. A good example is a study titled ‘Suppression of insulin secretion is associated with weight loss and altered macronutrient intake and preference in a subset of obese adults‘. The researchers concluded…

In a subcohort of obese adults, suppression of insulin secretion was associated with loss of body weight and fat mass and with concomitant modulation of caloric intake and macronutrient preference.

The fat loss was likely due to the modulation of calorie intake, not the suppression of insulin.

The diet itself is hidden from non-users. It only becomes available to you when you buy the supplements. We can make some assumptions though – it’s likely to be high protein, low carbohydrate and little/no sugar

We also know that the meal plans work out at 1300 to 1900 calories per day. This is roughly in line with what we’d expect to see for a lot of people following a calorie-restricted diet. Nothing out of the ordinary there. It’s enough to support cognitive function, energy levels and blood glucose levels. It’ll also help you achieve healthy weight loss

Insulin resistance – a quick explanation

Insulin resistance refers to a condition where cells become less responsive to the hormone insulin. Insulin is the hormone responsible for regulating blood sugar levels.

When cells are resistant to insulin, the body produces more insulin to compensate. This excess insulin can lead to weight gain and other metabolic issues. In time the pancreas can’t keep up and blood sugar keeps rising, which causes plenty of its own problems. 

The good news is, insulin resistance can be improved with exercise, as per this paper published in the British Medical Journal Open Sport and Exercise Medicine… Update on the effects of physical activity on insulin sensitivity in humans.

Is there any science behind the GOLO diet?

As we’ve explained, the GOLO diet adheres to the idea that insulin resistance plays a significant role in weight gain and difficulty losing weight.

While some studies have suggested a link between insulin resistance and weight management issues, the scientific evidence behind the GOLO diet itself is severely limited. The diet’s claims and effectiveness have not been extensively studied in large-scale, peer-reviewed clinical trials.

There is one study that seems to suggest GOLO is effective… but it is paid for by GOLO! In the conflict of interest declaration section, it states… ‘The author receives funding from GOLO, LLC per a research and consulting agreement.’

So we can throw that one out. He’s not going to say it’s a waste of money, is he?!

Outside of that, the research doesn’t exist. Throughout the GOLO website there are several references to studies, but no actual links or evidence. If you were proud of the strong research supporting your product, wouldn’t you want to share it?

I know I would. 

What makes the GOLO diet unique?

In reality, the only distinctive feature of the GOLO diet is its focus on supporting a diet with a supplement. called ‘Release’.

Instead of simply recommending restrictive eating patterns, the diet emphasizes a balanced combination of food choices, meal timing, and supplements. The GOLO diet aims to stabilize blood sugar levels, increase metabolism, and promote fat burning by addressing insulin resistance.

The reality is, you can do these things without needing to resort to a proprietary supplement. Calorie restriction and regular exercise is enough to create sustainable weight loss. 

GOLO does offer online support via a Facebook community, but that’s not especially unique. They also offer online plans, recipes etc and again, that’s standard in the industry. 

So in reality, the only thing that makes the GOLO diet unique is the enforced use of the GOLO diet pills.

What is the GOLO diet supplement and how does it help?

A cornerstone of the GOLO diet is the use of a proprietary supplement called ‘Release’. This supplement contains a blend of ingredients, including plant extracts and minerals, that are claimed to support insulin management and metabolic health.

The supplement is intended to complement the diet’s principles and enhance its effects.

The exact mechanisms by which the Release supplement works are not fully elucidated, and its efficacy remains a subject of debate. There’s no peer-reviewed independent research into the effectiveness of ‘Release’ as a weight loss supplement. The lack of any independent evidence to validate its claimed benefits is a problem for me.

Release contains 7 plant extracts and 3 minerals and according to GOLO, is said to be completely safe, and fine to take with medications.

But does it work?

The GOLO diet team claims that the supplement has many benefits. The following purported health claims are taken directly from the GOLO website…

  • Targets insulin resistance and metabolic health
  • STOP further weight gain
  • Reverse insulin resistance
  • Targets dangerous visceral fat
  • Balances hormones that regulate fat and carbohydrate metabolism,
  • Controls stress, cravings and hunger

These are a lot of powerful claims, yet they don’t provide any firm evidence. They refer to ‘studies’, without providing any links or information as to the whereabouts of these studies. With that in mind, I looked at the ingredient list of the GOLO diet pills and investigated them individually…

  • Rhodiolano good scientific evidence to support any of these uses.
  • Inositol – possibly effective.
  • Berberineno good scientific evidence to support any of these uses.
  • Gardenia – might reduce insulin resistance and help prevent high blood sugar.
  • Banaba – might reduce blood sugar and help the body use insulin more efficiently.
  • Salaciano good scientific evidence to support these uses.
  • Apple polyphenolsno good scientific evidence to support these uses.

So in real terms, of the 7 plant-based ingredients, 4 of them have insufficient evidence that they do anything at all. The other 3 have very weak evidence in support of them. Across the 7, absolutely none of them have any concrete evidence at all that they provide any of the health benefits they so enthusiastically claim to offer.

The mineral ingredients are well known and are evidence-based, but they’re available at a fraction of the cost of the GOLO diet pills.

Pills used to complement a golo diet
  • Save

How much does the GOLO diet cost?

Participating in the GOLO diet program comes with a price tag. Users need to purchase the Release supplement and adhere to the dietary guidelines outlined in the program. The cost can vary depending on the duration of the program and whether additional support or resources are included.

These are the prices at the time of writing, taken directly from their website.

  • 1 Bottle of Release — $59.95 (90 Capsules)
  • 2 Bottles of Release — $99.90 (180 Capsules)
  • 3 Bottles of Release — $119.85 (270 Capsules)

The capsules are to be taken 3 times per day, so 90 capsules lasts approximately one month. This means depending on the amount you buy, the GOLO diet costs anywhere from $39.95 per month to $59.95 per month.

What can I eat on the GOLO diet?

The GOLO diet emphasizes whole, nutrient-dense foods, as you’d expect. 

It encourages a balance of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, with an emphasis on consuming foods that have a low glycemic index (GI). This means choosing foods that cause a gradual rise in blood sugar levels to prevent insulin spikes. The diet also promotes portion control and mindful eating habits.

The diet claims to speed a slow metabolism, but there’s no convincing evidence that you can speed metabolism with diet or herbal supplementation. The most effective method we have for increasing metabolic rate is exercise, so make that your priority.

Plate full of healthy ingredients
  • Save

Should I bother with the GOLO diet?

I started this review with a completely open mind, but the more research I’ve done, the more disappointed I’ve grown.

The core principles of the GOLO diet revolve around a balanced meal plan and ensuring healthy insulin levels. I’ve got no problems with that at all. Controlling the amount of calories per day you’re eating, consuming a balanced diet consisting of healthy food and the like gets the thumbs up from me. 

It’s the Release supplement that bothers me

So many of the health claims for the ingredients have no supporting evidence in the scientific literature. The elements of the supplements that do have solid research are available from other sources for a fraction of the price GOLO charges. For the cheapest GOLO package ($39.95 per month), you could buy the effective supplements and have enough left over for a gym membership!

The team makes claims on their website about Release being ‘clinically proven’. They refer to ‘studies’, but they don’t share these studies with the reader. The studies I did find either refuted their claims, or confessed to having been funded by GOLO themselves

According to the extensive research, the role they claim insulin plays in weight loss is overstated. The calories are far more important. Given followers of the GOLO diet will be consuming 1300-1900 calories per day, you’re going to lose weight with or without the Release supplements. They’re using that as a way to sell you more magic pills.

So to sum up, there’s no convincing evidence that the GOLO diet is anything special. I’d urge you to avoid it, and follow a different path. One that doesn’t expect you to spend your hard earned money on an ineffective supplement. 

If I was going to part with $39.95 per month to $59.95 per month for a supplement, I’d be wanting concrete evidence that it works. Instead, I’d urge you to follow a calorie controlled diet program. One centered around animal protein, vegetables and appropriate carbohydrate consumption.

Maintain a solid activity level (4-6 workouts per week), and make time for good quality sleep. That’s the best way to achieve your weight loss goals, and it’ll cost you a lot less too!

Find some fantastic exercise plans here. 

About

Julien Raby is the owner of BoxLife. He owns a bachelor in literature and a certificate in marketing from Concordia. He's Crossfit Level 1 certified and has been involved in Crossfit since 2010. In 2023 he finally made it to Crossfit Open Quarterfinals for the first time. LinkedIn Instagram Facebook

Share via
Copy link