Article edited for scientific accuracy by Illuminate Labs Blog Editor Taylor Graber MD
Golo is a weight loss program centered around a supplement called Release, and was featured on Dr. Oz. We recently reviewed another Dr. Oz approved weight loss supplement called Plexus which we don’t recommend, so it will be interesting to see if this company performs better.
In this article we’ll review the science behind the Golo diet program, along with Golo’s weight loss supplement called Release, and conclude whether we believe this program is likely to help with weight loss.
No Public Doctors or Scientists on Team
We’ve seen a trend in our previous supplement reviews that companies with no scientists or licensed medical professionals on their team tend to produce ineffective products. This isn’t a surprise given that formulating an effective supplement and all of the medical research involved is a very specialized task.
Golo’s About Us page only has two individuals listed: their founder Chris Lundin and their President Jen Brooks. Neither are medically trained.
Chris has 30 years of experience in international sales. That’s great but doesn’t qualify him to formulate a weight loss supplement; just to sell it. Jen has studied “holistic nutrition.” This doesn’t mean anything and is not a medical credential. You can read a book and say that you studied “holistic nutrition”.
The Golo About Us page also states they “have a team of dedicated doctors”. Ok -- who are they? Any legitimate supplement company will actually list the researchers involved (if they have any), because this adds trust.
Because Golo doesn’t mention one single researcher or doctor by name we will assume they don’t have any, and this is a red flag.
Deceptive and Misleading “Studies” Page
Golo has a page on their site called “Studies” where they claim they’ve conducted studies to prove the safety and efficacy of their program.
The problem is that half of these studies don’t appear to be published in any scientific journals, and are thus not clinical studies in any relevant sense of the term.
Anyone can pay some company to conduct an in-house study showing their product works. It’s a totally biased and unscientific way to conduct research, and is deceiving to regular consumers who don’t know the difference. Legitimate companies actually publish research in medical journals, because there is a rigorous medical standard involved and you can’t fake (or pay for) positive results.
As an example, one “study” Golo links to on this page is just a Word document written by some guy named Blake Ebersole who runs an LLC called NaturPro Scientific LLC. It summarizes some unpublished research suggesting Golo’s diet plan works for weight loss.
We want to be clear that this doesn’t prove anything from a medical perspective, and is just marketing. Even Blake Ebersole isn’t a researcher or doctor: he only has a Bachelor’s in Science (an undergraduate degree) according to his own website!
Golo is hiring for-profit LLCs run by someone with a Bachelor’s degree to prove their products work. It's like if a supplement company went to a local college and paid a recent college graduate to have a few of their friends take the supplements and published a “study” proving how effective they were on a Word document. It’s as absurd as it sounds, and is not legitimate medical research.
The other two studies are published in actual medical journals but are written by an author who was directly paid by Golo. It states so in the Conflicts of Interest" section. That represents a large bias and makes the data nearly worthless in our opinion. One of the published studies didn't even have a placebo group.
The way this information is presented is unethical in our opinion.
Golo Diet Review
Golo’s Diet page on their website claims that they recommend “superfoods” to “help detox”. This is, again, an unscientific health claim.
The vast majority of people who are overweight are not overweight due to high levels of environmental toxins, but due to overconsumption of processed food.
As we discussed at length in our High Voltage Detox product review, companies claiming “detox” benefits is usually a red flag that their product or service is not based on sound scientific research, because the kidneys and liver process toxins fine for the vast majority of people, and there is no strong medical evidence that toxins are the root cause of most modern health issues.
We have no issue with most of the food categories that Golo recommends, like healthy fats, whole grains and fresh fruit, but this is not information worth paying for. Eating a whole foods, unprocessed diet is ideal for human health, and most people struggling with weight loss already know that a quinoa salad is healthier than pizza.
We also believe that Golo’s diet model is non-ideal because it doesn’t differentiate between animal protein types. It’s well-established in medical research that meat from pastured animals is healthier than meat from conventionally raised animals.
Overall Golo provides a pretty decent diet model, and certainly one better than many supplement companies recommend (like the absurd “Thermogenic Diet'' recommended by Umzu), but we feel like most of it is generic information. Eat moderate sized portions of healthy foods and you’ll have better health outcomes than eating processed foods regularly.
Release Supplement Review
Golo’s core product is their weight loss supplement called “Release”. It contains three minerals: magnesium, zinc and chromium.
We don’t agree with supplementing minerals without a proven deficiency, because there are health risks. There is little if any research suggesting that supplementing minerals in patients who aren’t deficient in those minerals has benefits.
Some minerals, like magnesium, have been proven to aid in weight loss in populations deficient in magnesium. But we haven’t seen much evidence suggesting magnesium supplementation is beneficial for those with healthy levels of the mineral already. Supplementation of minerals should be targeted based on bloodwork results in our opinion.
Outside of the minerals, the product only contains a proprietary blend of 297 mg total, which is a very small amount for a total blend which contains 7 ingredients: rhodiola extract, inositol, berberine extract, gardenia extract, banaba extract, salacia extract and apple extract. That averages out to only 42 mg per ingredient.
We can’t find one single study proving rhodiola is effective for weight loss in humans, and Golo doesn’t publish any, so we’ll assume this is an ineffective ingredient.
Inositol has been proven to be effective for weight loss specifically in women with an ovarian condition called PCOS, but we can’t find any evidence it’s effective for a general population. Even compared to the PCOS studies, the inositol dosage in Golo is horribly underdosed.
Berberine extract is an effective ingredient for weight loss, but again is underdosed in Golo. A meta-study on berberine supplementation and weight loss found that the herb was effective, but the minimum dose in all trials reviewed was 1000 mg/day.
Gardenia extract may be effective for weight loss though research is limited. The dosage in Golo is too low, because the only human study we could find on gardenia for weight loss used between 3 to 10 grams (depending on body weight), many times higher than the entire prop blend dosage.
One single study on banaba extract did find a weight loss benefit in trial participants, so this ingredient may be effectively dosed but research is preliminary and there isn’t much safety data on banaba.
Salacia extract had no effect on body weight in an animal study. We can’t find any human studies suggesting it’s effective so we’ll assume this is a waste of an ingredient.
Apple extract is the final ingredient in Golo, and unsurprisingly we can’t find any research at all suggesting it’s effective for weight loss. Consumption of whole apples has been associated with lowered weight in research studies, but not apple extract specifically.
Overall, we believe Release is an ineffective and underdosed weight loss supplement.
Golo is a company that we believe is not only unethical but also produces ineffective products. We don’t recommend either their diet plan or their supplement.
Golo’s diet plan seems to contain some decent, but rather generic, advice. Their weight loss supplement Release seems to be formulated by people unaware of the medical research behind its ingredients. This is unsurprising if it were formulated by people with no medical credentials.
Consumers searching for weight loss programs may be interested in our review of Noom, another popular weight loss service (in the form of an app). While we had ethical concerns, at least the science behind it was sound and it was run by credentialed professionals.