There are lots of testimonials from people who say they lost weight with GOLO, but its effectiveness is not supported by any scientific evidence.
Advertisements for GOLO seem to be everywhere. They feature people who were unable to lose weight until they tried GOLO. The testimonials are enthusiastic and feature before-and-after pictures of people who lost weight, sometimes over 100 or even 200 pounds, and kept it off.
The ads claim to tell “the truth about weight loss”. They say insulin resistance is the root of the problem. But obesity is not just a result of insulin resistance. It is thought to be one of the major causes of insulin resistance.
The name GOLO means GO LOse weight, GO LOok great, GO LOve life. They say with GOLO you can eat your favorite foods, lose weight, and will never have to diet again. It is a two-part program: their GOLO for Life advice on how to eat and the dietary supplement GOLO Relief.
The GOLO for Life Plan is a 2-1-2-1 approach: 2 protein, 1 carbohydrate, 2 vegetable, 1 fat. There are no prohibited foods, no menus, just education on how to change your approach to choosing foods in order to decrease insulin resistance, lose weight, and prevent diabetes and other diseases.
GOLO Release is a tablet taken with every meal. A month’s supply costs $59.99, and many users can reduce the dose and even stop taking it after a few months. They say:
Release is a patented formulation containing 7 natural plant-based ingredients and 3 minerals. The key ingredients are organically bound, chelated minerals Zinc Bisglycinate, Chromium Nicotinate Glycinate, Banaba Leaf Extract and Rholiola Rosea. The complementary ingredients are Magnesium (chelated dimagnesium malate), Berberine , Salacia Reticulata Extract, Gardenia Jasminoides Fruit Extract, Apple Polyphenol Fruit Extract and Myo-Inositol. The ingredients in Release are proven to be safe and enhance weight loss results. There are over 200 published independent experimental studies supporting the safety and efficacy of the ingredients in Release.
Yes, there are some published studies showing that the individual ingredients have benefits like lowering blood sugar, but many of the studies are in animals, and these ingredients are not part of the standard evidence-based treatment of diabetes. It might seem logical that combining these ingredients should result in a larger effect, but it’s also possible that some ingredients might reduce the effects of others. We can’t assume anything about these mixtures; they must be tested.
They claim to have over 2 million happy customers and a 98% customer satisfaction rating. But testimonials are not reliable evidence. What we need are human studies with an appropriate control group. GOLO claims to have done such a study:
In a 2018 13-week randomized double-blind placebo-controlled study on overweight subjects, those taking Release lost significantly more weight, inches around their waists and lowered their health risk markers more than subjects taking a placebo.
Elsewhere they say, “In a 2019 study participants taking the GOLO Release supplement lost 79.9% more weight and 208 inches from their waists than those taking a placebo”. Was it 2018 or 2019? No such study was published in a peer-reviewed journal, and the mention on the GOLO website was the only thing I could find.
They make other unsupported claims for hormone balance, hunger control, immune health, faster metabolism, more energy, improved stamina, protection against damage from free radicals, support of mental focus, improved sleep, and much more.
Dietitians are not fans of the GOLO diet. One of them is concerned about the recommended calorie intake of 1200 to 1500 calories a day, which “is really low for most people over 130 pounds”. Another says “There is no conclusive scientific evidence to support the claims of this diet”. And another points out that “the studies were paid for by GOLO and cannot be found on peer-reviewed databases”.
Jennifer Brooks, the president and co-founder of GOLO, is listed as “Board-Certified in Holistic Nutrition, Certified Dietary Supplement Professional, and Degree in Culinary Arts”. That doesn’t inspire confidence. She has no legitimate scientific or medical credentials.
Conclusion: based on testimonials, not science
Any diet that gets people to lose weight and that people can stick to is great! But if you’re looking for scientific evidence that GOLO is effective, there’s nothing to be found. Will it work for you? There’s no way to know, and if it does work, it could be because it triggers a placebo response. While there’s no evidence that it is effective, there’s no evidence that it is harmful. If you can spare the money, there is no compelling reason not to give it a try.
This article was originally published in the Science-Based Medicine Blog.