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Weight Loss

What is the GOLO diet? Experts explain why it's not for everyone.

Daryl Austin

While accountability can be important and helpful when trying to lose weight, many people frown at the notion of having to pay for something they could get for free from a friend or family member. Still, weight management programs such as Weight Watchers have thrived for decades by helping their subscribers record weight management goals and then assisting with and following up on progress.

Other weight loss programs and companies charge for a lot more than accountability and food recommendations, however, and the GOLO diet is one of them. 

What is the GOLO diet?

The GOLO diet, or Go Lose Weight diet, is a branded diet that has been around since 2009 and is rooted in the philosophy that people who struggle to lose weight do so because of an imbalance in their hormones, particularly insulin. 

Per the company's website, (GOLO did not respond to a request for comment), poorly managed insulin levels cause fat storage and slow one's metabolism. The GOLO diet aims to fix that by helping those who struggle with such insulin resistance, says Kate Zeratsky, RD, LD, a registered dietitian nutritionist at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. She explains that insulin resistance "is a condition in which insulin’s function is impaired, rendering it less effective in transporting glucose (energy) into your body’s muscle, fat and liver cells." GOLO claims to offset such resistance by offering its program participants a dietary supplement called Release − a supplement the company says "helps to optimize" one's metabolism. In short, "the GOLO diet is a commercial weight loss program using supplements and food lists," says Zeratsky.

Among its approved foods, "the diet also emphasizes the consumption of whole foods and discourages the consumption of processed foods and refined sugars," says Jen Messer, MR, RDN, LD a nutrition consultant and registered dietitian at Jen Messer Nutrition.

But the experts say there isn't much supporting research behind the supplement central to the diet, and the GOLO diet has been labeled "expensive, confusing and difficult to follow."

What are the pros and cons of the GOLO diet?

As for the benefits of the GOLO diet, its food recommendations consist of a "balanced intake of whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and healthy fats," says Messer. "This meal pattern is rich in essential nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and particularly fiber that many Americans lack." Regulating blood sugar levels and preventing spikes and crashes with balanced meals can help reduce cravings and keep energy levels steady − important elements behind GOLO's philosophy. 

But Messer says GOLO's Release supplement is expensive and that it's so called “proprietary blend" of plant extracts and minerals is something to be wary of. "While this 'proprietary blend' may sound special, it is a term that raises a red flag," she says. She explains that supplement companies that refer to their products this way don't have to list the amount of each individual ingredient, which makes it difficult to know what is in the supplement or if the dose of the claimed active ingredient is large enough to be effective. "Supplements are not regulated in the US the same way food and drugs are, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has warned that muscle-building, weight-loss, energy and sexual enhancement products are the supplements most commonly spiked with drugs or other illegal ingredients," cautions Messer. 

"Even though some people may see positive results from the GOLO diet, there is not enough scientific evidence to fully support its effectiveness," she says.

What is the monthly cost of GOLO?

What's more, the GOLO diet can be costly. Its exact cost depends on the amount of GOLO Release supplements one chooses to take, but the company's website shows that one bottle, which costs $59.95, "lasts most people 30-45 days." There's also the option to buy two bottles for $99.90 or three for $119.85. 

People with insulin resistance may choose to pay GOLO those amounts of $479.40 to $719.40 annually, or they may choose instead to look at a host of other dietary supplements, eating plans, exercises or other factors that have proven to affect insulin levels. "As a dietitian...I prioritize considering factors such as sleep, a healthy diet, stress and physical activity − including resistance training, as they all play a significant role in regulating hormones like insulin and cortisol," Messer explains. 

It's also worth noting that another popular diet, the DASH diet, has been shown to improve insulin resistance along with helping other conditions like hypertension. That diet also has the advantage of being started by the National Institute of Health's Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and is free to anyone wishing to follow it. 

More:Mediterranean diet named 'best diet overall' for 6th year in a row. Here's how to start it.

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