The Golo diet claims to yield long-term weight loss through calorie restriction and a supplement the maker sells. But is it safe? A registered dietitian weighs in.
The Golo diet isn’t your typical diet trend. Unlike other diets (like the Mediterranean diet, vegan, paleo or keto), the Golo diet is a prescriptive way of eating that requires a dietary supplement while significantly restricting your calorie intake. In addition, the Golo diet promises “healthy, sustainable and affordable weight loss,” making it an attractive option for those who have a goal of losing weight. But while the Golo diet makes some bold health claims, those curious about trying it should proceed cautiously. Keep reading to learn more about the Golo diet and whether it’s right for you.
What Is the Golo Diet?
The Golo diet was developed by a “team of dedicated doctors and pharmacists” in 2009 (although there’s no clear indication of who they are). This way of eating requires you to reduce your daily calorie intake to 1,300 to 1,500 “nutritionally-dense calories” while taking their dietary supplement called Release. The goal is to improve metabolic health and fuel yourself with “proper nutrition” to boost energy levels and stay full all day. Also, the website claims that the Golo diet will help you “get healthier without cutting excessive calories, giving up food groups or eating unhealthy diet foods.”
Brittany Lubeck, RD, a registered dietitian and nutrition writer, tells EatingWell, “The Golo diet is a restrictive and unsustainable diet on the marketplace. Yet, the website claims their diet will ‘help your body process stored fat, repair your metabolism and reverse the damage caused by conventional diets.’ But there’s no science to back up these and other claims.”
Golo Diet Foods List
The Golo diet encourages eating whole, unprocessed foods while taking their Release supplement to support weight loss. While the website doesn’t list which foods are allowed, you receive a free booklet of what you can eat after you first purchase Release. These include:
- Animal protein like beef, chicken, pork, eggs, milk, cheese and yogurt
- Fresh fruit
- Green vegetables like asparagus, broccoli, zucchini and kale
- Healthy fats like coconut oil, olive oil, chia seeds, hemp seeds and flax seeds
- Legumes like black beans, pinto beans, garbanzo beans and white beans
- Nuts and seeds like almonds, cashews, walnuts, pistachios and peanuts
- Other vegetables including potatoes, sweet potatoes and squash
- Whole grains like brown rice, oatmeal and quinoa
Is the Golo Diet Safe?
The Golo diet encourages eating healthy, nutritious whole foods while avoiding processed foods. Mainly eating plant-based, whole foods can help reduce your risk for heart disease, cancer and type 2 diabetes, according to a 2022 study published in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine. Whole foods are nutrient-dense, meaning they’re low in calories and rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber and other essential nutrients for good health. Additionally, a 2019 study published in Cell Metabolism found that eating whole foods instead of highly processed foods can help support healthy weight loss and prevent overeating.
Cons of the Golo Diet
One of the primary red flags of this diet is how much it restricts calorie intake. A calorie deficit of roughly 300 to 500 calories daily is typically recommended for sustainable weight loss. The Golo diet, however, requires eating only 1,300 to 1,500 calories daily, which is unsafe for most adults unless under medical supervision. Also, caloric needs vary widely from person to person, depending on age, size, gender, activity level and other factors, says the National Institutes of Health. “It’s easy to provide blanket guidelines for calorie intake, but calories should truly be individualized for the best results,” says Lubeck. “Also, calorie restriction has been linked to weight regain and disordered eating habits.”
Another downside of the diet is that it requires a weight-loss supplement. While some of the ingredients in the Golo diet’s supplement, Release, have been studied for weight-loss benefits (like banaba leaf extract), further research is warranted before any of them become standard ingredients in weight-loss supplements. In addition, other research suggests that supplements like Release are potentially harmful.
Additionally, the Golo diet creators make several promises that are not backed by research. The Golo diet website makes unfounded health claims (like restoring hormonal balance, improving metabolic health and rapid weight loss). “There’s no quality evidence to suggest that the diet pills work,” states Lubeck.
Should You Try the Golo Diet?
We won’t encourage restrictive, low-calorie diets, because they can cause unhealthy eating habits and nutrient deficiencies. If you have a history of disordered eating, are on medication or have diabetes, then the Golo diet isn’t recommended for you. However, if you’re in good overall health and think it seems like a fit for your lifestyle, then the Golo diet may be a way for you to lose weight in the short term.
“Real changes to your health are made through sustainable measures that don’t entail a ‘magic’ supplement or calorie restrictions that you can’t keep up with for the rest of your life,” explains Lubeck. “Making healthy changes also doesn’t require an upfront fee like the ones required for the Golo diet.”
Always speak with your doctor or registered dietitian before starting any diet plan to ensure it’s safe for you.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Who should not try the Golo diet?
Those with a history of disordered eating shouldn’t try the Golo diet, since being too restrictive with calories can lead to unhealthy eating habits. People with diabetes should also avoid the diet since the Release supplement may lower blood sugar. Lastly, people taking medication for health conditions should avoid the Release supplement. “The Golo diet shouldn’t be followed by people taking medications for health conditions. The Release supplement contains several herbs that may interact with prescription medications,” says Lubeck.
2. What is the monthly cost of the Golo Diet?
The Golo diet meal plan itself is free. However, the Release supplement is not. You can buy one to three bottles from their website. Each bottle contains 30 days’ worth of capsules. The cost ranges from $59.99 to $119.85, depending on how many you purchase. The Golo diet’s creators recommend users take one Release capsule with each meal.
3. What are the side effects of taking the Golo diet supplement?
The website’s FAQ section states that the Golo diet supplement has no known side effects. However, this is likely due to insufficient research on the supplement. Despite the website’s claims that Release can be taken with medications (including those for type 2 diabetes), talk to your health care provider before starting any new diet or trying any new supplement. If you decide to try the Golo diet, have your doctor or dietitian confirm there are no medication interactions with the Release supplement that can cause adverse side effects.
The Bottom Line
The Golo diet is a short-term weight-loss plan based on eating nutritious whole foods. However, the diet requires that you significantly restrict calories while taking a dietary supplement called Release with each meal, a supplement that hasn’t been thoroughly researched or shown to be safe. These factors make the Golo diet unhealthy and unsustainable in the long term. Also, the Golo diet isn’t recommended for those who have a history of disordered eating, diabetes or are taking medications for existing health conditions. If your health goal is weight loss, instead try to make healthy eating choices that aren’t overly restrictive and are sustainable for your preferences and lifestyle.