Golo is a weight loss program which includes a diet plan and a dietary supplement called Release. The brand claims that "insulin resistance is the root problem [of obesity] but the diet industry doesn't want to talk about it."
But is insulin resistance really the root cause of weight issues or is this just a marketing claim? Is Golo's diet proven in clinical studies to cause weight loss? Does Golo's Release supplement contain research-backed ingredients for weight loss? And how do real users rate and describe the weight loss effects of Golo?
In this article we’ll answer all of these questions and more as we review the clinical trials on the Golo Diet, and analyze the ingredients in Golo Release based on medical research to give our take on whether or not the program is likely to be effective for weight loss overall.
We'll also share our concerns about the way Golo's clinical trials are designed, highlight some questionable health claims on the Golo website and share a real, unsponsored user review of Golo.
Does the Golo Diet Cause Weight Loss?
Golo has a Studies page on their website where the brand documents four clinical studies they have funded to test the weight loss effects of their diet program.
All four studies listed on Golo's Studies page found their program to be effective for weight loss, however, none of these studies appear to be published in any peer-reviewed medical journals, and none are placebo-controlled.
The brand reports that after one year, the average patient loses 48.6 pounds.
We recommend that consumers disregard claims of efficacy made by brands based on company-funded studies that are not published in peer-reviewed journals, because there is a high risk of bias. Ask yourself when the last time was that you saw a clinical trial failure published on a company website.
If these trials were at least benchmarked to another commercial weight loss diet we would find the results more intriguing, but any diet program that includes caloric restriction and exercise can cause weight loss.
We consider Golo's diet likely to be effective for weight loss based on the clinical studies funded by the brand, but we do not recommend the program overall because we can't identify any evidence that's it's more effective than any other weight loss program that involves caloric restriction and exercise.
Will Golo's Supplement Cause Weight Loss?
Golo claims that their Release supplement causes weight loss and reduced hunger and cravings.
Magnesium, zinc and chromium are the first-listed active ingredients, and we have not come across any medical research suggesting that these three minerals are effective for weight loss. It also seems questionable to regularly supplement with 200% of the Daily Value (DV) of any mineral without a documented deficiency in that mineral.
The remaining ingredients are included in a proprietary (prop) blend totaling only 297 milligrams (mg), which is an average of 42 mg per ingredient.
Rhodiola extract is the first ingredient in the prop blend, and we have not come across any medical studies suggesting this ingredient is effective for weight loss. One animal study actually found that rhodiola extract caused weight gain.
Inositol has been shown to be effective for weight loss, but may be significantly underdosed in Release.
A clinical trial on inositol supplementation in overweight women published in the Climacteric journal found that the compound did cause weight loss and a reversal of metabolic syndrome in some participants, but the dosage used was 4,000 mg per day or 95x the amount in Release pills.
Berberine extract is an effective ingredient for weight loss, but may be underdosed in this supplement. A meta-study on berberine supplementation and weight loss found that this ingredient caused weight loss, but the minimum dose in any trials was 1,000 mg per day, which is 24x the amount in these diet pills.
Gardenia extract may be effective for weight loss though research is limited. The only human study we could find on gardenia for weight loss used between 3,000 mg and 10,000 mg, which is many times higher than the 42 mg average ingredient dose in Release.
Banaba extract was found in a 2006 clinical trial to cause weight loss. This trial is published in Japanese so we can't assess dosage. We'll consider this ingredient potentially effective.
Salaretin is a trademarked and standardized botanical extract which was found in an animal trial to have no effect on body weight. The manufacturer's website only lists three clinical trials at the time of updating this article, and none of them relate to weight loss. All three relate to diabetes.
Apple extract is the final ingredient in Golo Release, and we cannot locate any medical trials suggesting this ingredient is effective for weight loss.
The inactive ingredients in Golo Release are all safe and non-toxic. There are no questionable additives like added sugar or flavoring agents which is a good thing.
We do not consider this supplement likely to cause weight loss as we cannot identify any active ingredients that we consider effectively dosed for weight loss based on clinical research.
Golo does not appear to have funded any studies proving that their Release supplement is effective for weight loss isolated from a restricted calorie diet.
One of the most popular reviews of the Golo program is published by a nutritionist who has a channel called "All Things Nutrition." She reviews whether the diet and supplement are effective, and explains whether she recommends it to patients:
What's Allowed in Golo's Diet?
Golo’s Diet, also called the Golo For Life Plan, recommends “superfoods” to “help detox.” This claim is uncited and we consider it unscientific. We have not come across any research suggesting that eating "superfoods" causes detoxification beyond the body's natural detoxification processes.
We also haven't come across any medical evidence that "toxins" cause obesity. The average person who is overweight is overweight because they consume more calories than they expend on a regular basis; not due to environmental toxins.
The Golo diet seems relatively straightfoward. The brand suggests that eating whole foods is beneficial to health, which we would agree with. Any diet model that eliminates processed foods should improve consumer health on average.
One aspect of Golo's diet that we consider suboptimal is that it doesn’t appear to differentiate between animal protein types. It’s well-established in medical research that animal products sourced from pastured animals are healthier than animal products from conventionally-raised animals.
We have no issue with the basics of the Golo Diet, but we don't consider this worth spending money or time on. The brand seems to be suggesting that eating whole foods will improve health and potentially increase weight loss compared to eating an unhealthy diet containing processed foods like pizza or cookies, which we would agree with, and which seems logical.
Another video from All Things Nutrition overviewed some of the specific foods that are allowed and disallowed on the Golo Diet:
Real, Unsponsored Golo User Review
A TikTok user named Julie Shroyer tried the Golo diet and Release supplement for 30 days and documented whether or not the program caused weight loss:
@fabover50 GOLO weight loss program…30 day review! #golo #weightloss #weightlossprogram #review #dietprograms #9pounds #loseweight #insulin #metabolism #burnfat #weight #4u ♬ Coffee Talk (Extended) - BLVKSHP
Questionable Health Claims on Golo Website
As referenced in the intro to this article, Golo claims that insulin resistance is the root cause of weight loss. However, this claim is not cited or proven.
While insulin resistance is certainly associated with obesity, as are many unfavorable metabolic changes, we have not come across any convincing medical evidence that insulin resistance is the cause of obesity. We recommend that Golo cites medical evidence proving that insulin resistance is the root cause of obesity in most obese individuals or removes this claim from their website.
Golo also has an interactive feature on their site that diagnoses risk for insulin resistance. We do not recommend that consumers take online quizzes from supplement companies to diagnose health conditions, as this is an illogical and unscientific approach. Insulin resistance can be diagnosed with blood tests ordered by a doctor.
Does Golo Cause Side Effects?
Since Golo is a weight loss program, many consumers are curious about whether the Golo Diet or Golo Release supplement are likely to cause side effects.
In our opinion the Golo Diet is unlikely to cause any side effects. It appears to be a whole foods diet. Occasionally patients who switch from an unhealthy diet high in processed foods may experience indigestion when consuming a whole foods diet higher in fiber, but we don't find the Golo Diet likely to cause harmful side effects.
We also don't believe that Golo Release is likely to cause any harmful side effects. While we don't recommend the supplement due to efficacy concerns, we did not identify any potentially harmful or toxic ingredients in our formulation review.
Why Was Golo Sued?
In 2021, Golo was sued in a class-action lawsuit for false advertising.
The plaintiff claims that Golo's program was ineffective for weight loss, and that the brand made false health claims on their website.
At the time of updating this article, this lawsuit appears to be ongoing.
Can Food Supplements Cause Weight Loss?
There exist several over-the-counter (OTC), food-based weight loss supplements with significant research backing.
Dietary fiber is associated with weight loss in clinical trials, especially when combined with caloric restriction.
A landmark medical study found that moderate caloric restriction (750 calories per day below baseline) combined with dietary fiber intake (a minimum of 20 grams per day) caused an average weight loss of 16.03 pounds over 6 months. That’s a pace of 32 pounds per year of weight loss in overweight individuals simply by adding fiber to a moderately-restricted-calorie diet.
The fiber supplement we recommend is SuperGut Fiber Mix. It contains a clean and effective formulation: a blend of three different types of unflavored dietary fiber and zero additive ingredients. It can be mixed into liquids or foods. Interested consumers can buy SuperGut fiber at this link to the product page on the brand's website.
We recommend using two fiber mixes per day, which provides 16 grams (g) of total fiber. Diet should provide the remaining fiber necessary to meet the 20 g minimum threshold.
MCT oil is derived from coconuts, quickly absorbed by the body and increases metabolic rate, which causes fat loss. A meta-study on MCT oil documented weight loss of 1.12 pounds over 10 weeks. This equates to a potential annualized weight loss of 5.84 pounds with MCT oil supplementation.
We recommend Bulletproof MCT Oil as our top MCT oil product, because it has a clean and effective formulation. The only ingredient is MCT oil derived from coconuts, and the product has no questionable additives. Interested consumers can buy Bulletproof MCT Oil at this link to the product page on the brand's website. This supplement only costs $15.50 for over a month's worth of product.
The effective dose range of MCT oil for weight loss (based on the medical review) is 1.7 g to 10 g per day. Bulletproof's MCT oil provides 14 g in one tablespoon, so around two-thirds of one tablespoon should be a maximally-effective dosage.