Side Effects of Golo Diet
There are many possible side effects associated with the GOLO Diet, including risks to your health.
It is important to be aware of the potential risks and side effects of any diet you may be considering, so that you can make an informed decision about whether or not it is right for you.
This guide will provide you with a list of potential risks and how to avoid them. Before we dive in, I'll mention that one of the best ways to improve your skin health and digestion is from a collagen rich bone broth.
More on that later on.
What is the GOLO Diet?
The GOLO Diet is a weight loss program that focuses on managing insulin levels to boost your metabolism, ultimately leading to weight loss. This program has three key elements:
- A dietary supplement called 'Release,' created to tackle insulin resistance and curb your food cravings. These pills are taken after your meal to help curb the insulin response.
- A specific eating plan that helps you embrace a healthier diet. The eating plan is low calorie at about 1200-1500 calories per day.
- A solid support network for motivational boosts.
However, it's not as simple as just diving in, especially if you have certain medical conditions like type 2 diabetes. Always consult your doctor before starting the GOLO Diet to ensure it's a good fit for you.
Is the GOLO diet safe?
The GOLO diet may not be safe for everyone as it recommends eating between 1,300 to 1,500 calories per day. This may not be safe long-term without medical supervision.
For this reason, it is important to speak with your doctor before trying the diet. Pay special attention if you have serious medical conditions or are on prescription medications.
Also, the diet still faces questioning due to a lack of independent evidence supporting its effectiveness. There are no studies or research showing that it is effective, safe or not effective.
Curious about collagen? Read my list of the best collagen supplements for sagging skin.
GOLO Diet Side Effects
Reported side effects from people on the GOLO diet include nausea, stomach pain, diarrhea, headaches, dizziness, increased heart rate, fatigue, insomnia, irritability and low blood sugar (1,2,3,4,5).
Let's go through each of these in more detail below.
1. Nausea and stomach pain
Side effects like nausea and stomach pain could happen on the GOLO diet because of the high fiber content of the 'Release' pills. Some people on reddit mentioned that they get nauseous between meals -- especially at the beginning of the diet (1,2,3,4,5).
The manufacturer mentions that this could be because your body is merely getting used to the extra fiber.
One of the best things for fixing stomach pain is a top quality bone broth.
2. Does GOLO cause Diarrhea?
Diarrhea is a potential side effect you might experience when taking GOLO Release pills according to reddit users (1,2,3,4,5). While it's not a common occurrence, it could be due to the additional fiber in your diet.
Some people on reddit reported headaches while taking the 'Release' pills. This may be because your body is not used to the nutrients in the pills yet.
Dizziness, as a side effect of the GOLO diet (according to reddit users), can throw you off balance and make you feel unsteady or lightheaded. It is important to make sure that you do not go over the recommended dose (1,2,3,4,5).
Fatigue is a common side effect reported by redditors while following the GOLO diet. This is because your body is adjusting to changes in insulin levels and blood sugar.
Your body is learning to function differently on such low calories. You are becoming more fat adapted, so it makes sense why you feel like garbage.
Insomnia, a troublesome condition of persistent difficulty in falling or staying asleep, could potentially be a side effect of the GOLO diet according to user reports (1,2,3,4,5).
This can happen due to:
- A disruption in insulin regulation: The GOLO diet aims to balance insulin levels. Any variations in this balance, especially during initiation, can cause insomnia.
- The stress of adapting to a new diet: Adjusting to the rigidity of the GOLO diet might lead to stress and consequently insomnia.
- Metabolism boost: The diet's metabolism-boosting effects could keep you active later into the evening, making it harder to sleep.
I've had trouble sleeping on and off for years. One of the best things I tried was drinking bone broth before bed. It is full of glycine, which is an inhibitory neurotransmitter (similar to GABA) the helps you unwind, relax and get to sleep.
7. Increased Heart Rate
Some people online and on reddit reported increased heart rate (1,2,3,4,5). I suspect this is because of the metabolism boosting herbs in the Release pills. It is difficult to figure out exactly what is causing this side effect, so just be wary of it.
8. Low Blood Sugar
It's important to understand that low blood sugar, also known as hypoglycemia, can be a potential risk when following the GOLO diet according to reddit.
This diet works primarily by regulating your insulin and blood sugar levels, and can occasionally lead to a drop in blood sugar, particularly if you have diabetes.
Protecting yourself from this side effect is key, and you can achieve this by:
- Monitoring your blood sugar levels regularly.
- Including carbohydrates in your meals to prevent drastic drops.
- Scheduling regular consultations with your healthcare provider.
Irritability is one common potential side effect of the GOLO diet. Your body is operating on very low calories, which causes significant stress on your entire system. You will notice that you cannot handle other stressors throughout the day like work, kids, family, exercise, etc.
This is because of something called allostatic load. Your body has a bucket that you can fill with stress. I does not differentiate between the stress from dieting, exercise, work, bad sleep, etc.
It all goes into the same bucket... and when your bucket gets too full, you will get cranky and have a tough time coping. For this reason, it is best to try a diet when you do not have any other stressors going on in your life.
What is the main ingredient in the GOLO Release pills?
The key ingredients in GOLO Release are the following minerals, herbs and botanicals:
- Zinc bisglycinate: a chelated form of the mineral Zinc, renowned for its superior absorption characteristics.
- Chromium nicotinate glycinate: a mineral thought to help with weight loss.
- Banaba leaf extract: an extract from the leaves of the crepe myrtle tree, which is native to southeast Asia. Banaba is traditionally used to lower blood sugar.
- Rhodiola rosea: an adaptogen used in Traditional Chinese Medicine as an anti-stress medication.
- Chelated dimagnesium malate: a chelated form of magnesium.
- Berberine: a potent herb used to control blood sugar in those with type two diabetics.
- Salacia reticulata extract: another herb commonly used to manage obesity and diabetes.
- Gardenia jasminoides fruit extract: an extract used to control insulin.
- Apple polyphenol fruit extract: a potent antioxidant used for skin health.
- Myo-inositol: a vitamin for insulin regulation.
Remember, ensure to consult with a healthcare professional before using any supplement.
Risks associated with the GOLO Diet
Like every other diet, there are some potential risks with the GOLO diet, including a lack of peer reviewed research, it is low calorie, lack of nutrients, possible drug interactions, possible liver issues, digestive issues and kidney issues.
Let's walk through each of these below.
1. Lack of Peer Reviewed Research
The lack of peer-reviewed research on the GOLO diet means that we don't know if the benefits are as advertised. We also do not know if it is safe long-term, because it is relatively new.
There was a GOLO pilot study, but this did not include a placebo group, which is a key part of the scientific method in any study (6).
The other tricky thing is that the pilot study was funded by Herbalife, who are the makers of GOLO. Ultimately, comprehensive, peer-reviewed research would provide more reliable insights into its long-term effectiveness and safety.
2. Lack of Nutrients and Calories
While the GOLO Diet encourages you to focus on nutrient-dense foods, you are only a very low calorie diet that is devoid if nutrients.
Based on my research, the diet does not necessarily forbid certain food groups. Based on their website, you are encourage to eat "fresh meats, fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats -- and of course fresh breads, pasta, and butter."
While nothing about that sounds bad to me, I cannot weigh in without knowing the specific macronutrient breakdown of the diet. You need to be a paid member in order to access this information. See below for the food list though.
3. GOLO Side Effects on Blood Pressure
There are a few possible side effects and drug interactions you need to be aware of with GOLO with respect to blood pressure and diabetes.
If you are on other medications for type 2 diabetes, it may reduce your blood sugar more than you would like. Also, if you are on blood pressure medications, you might have issues because of the magnesium content (8).
For this reason it is important to see the advise of your doctor before getting started.
4. Possible Side Effects on the Digestive System
The herbs in the Release pills may cause some digestive issues or discomfort. You may get some nausea, diarrhea, bloating or stomach pain. This is likely because of the fiber from all of the herbs.
The best way to nourish your GI tract and digestive system is to get the right amino acids from a gelatinous bone broth.
6. Possible Side Effects on the Kidneys
There are some disclaimers on the GOLO diet website around kidney health, this may be due to the addition of Chromium, which can aggravate kidney disease in high doses (6).
Melina B. Jampolis, M.D. advises that "Important considerations to follow include kidney function—you wouldn’t want much protein if there is an impairment in the kidney function."
How to avoid the side effects and risks of the GOLO Diet
There are a few things you can do to minimize the side effects of the GOLO Diet, these include the following:
- Drink plenty of water. Hydration can help manage fiber digestion and reduce discomfort.
- Ease into the diet instead of jumping in headfirst. Your digestive system may handle change better this way.
- Make sure you do not have other stressors in your life when you are dieting. Dieting is an extreme stressor. So you should only diet when you are not trying to balance a million other things.
- Always seek medical advice if symptoms persist or worsen. After all, everyone's body reacts differently, and your health should be your top priority.
Golo Diet Food List
- Animal protein: beef, chicken, pork, eggs, milk, cheese and yogurt
- Seafood: fresh or frozen
- Healthy fats: coconut oil, olive oil, chia seeds, hemp seeds and flax seeds
- Whole grains: brown rice and quinoa Legumes: pinto, black and garbanzo beans
- Other vegetables: potatoes, sweet potatoes and winter squash
- Fresh fruit: especially berries
- Green vegetables: asparagus, broccoli, kale and zucchini
- Nuts: almonds, walnuts and cashews
Foods Discouraged on the GOLO Diet
- Added sugar
- Artificial sweeteners
- Sweet baked goods and sweetened beverages
- Processed foods, such as sausages, lunch meats and plant-based meat substitutes
- Refined foods
- White bread
Who is the GOLO Diet for?
The GOLO Diet is for people trying to lose weight and manage insulin levels. You must be willing to try a difficult, low calorie meal plan that many people will not enjoy.
There is nothing new, fancy or unique about the diet. It is just another form of calorie restriction to get you to lose weight. I would ask yourself whether you think you can keep the weight off once you lose it.
If you cannot, then any diet will not work in the long-term.
Is the diet worth trying?
I do not personally think that the GOLO diet is worth trying. It is similar to other diets, but it is new and highly marketed.
The Release pills themselves have some interesting botanicals that are used in Traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic Medicine like Chromium and Berberine.
These are known to help control insulin response to carb rich meals and biohackers have been using them for years.
That being said, do not expect miracles from this diet. I always recommend loving yourself for the body you are in before you consider trying to change it.
If you are wanting to lose weight and think a diet is helpful, I would tell you that the evidence tells us that diets to not work long-term (7).
You really need to look at changing your lifestyle one thing at a time instead of doing too much too soon by using an extreme diet. And if you need a boost, you can learn about using bone broth for weight loss.
Does the GOLO diet work?
Yes, the GOLO diet can work for people wanting to lose weight in the short-term because you are reducing calories. By definition and the laws of thermodynamics, you will lose weight if you adhere to the plan.
The question is whether you can adhere to the plan. It is quite restrictive and will be difficult psychologically to follow. I would say from a practical perspective, it will be difficult to follow because of the very low calories.
Can GOLO cause health issues?
The GOLO Diet can cause health issues if you have pre-existing medical conditions like type 2 diabetes, liver conditions, kidney conditions and possibly other things.
It also may interact with some medications, so it is a good idea to speak with doctor or a registered dietician before starting it.
Who should not take GOLO?
If you're considering the GOLO diet, be aware it might not be suitable for everyone. Here's a quick rundown:
- Pregnant or Breastfeeding: It's best to stay clear of the diet.
- On Prescription Medication: The GOLO supplement may interact with your drugs. Seek advice from your healthcare provider first.
- History of Eating Disorders: This diet could trigger unhealthy habits due to its calorie restrictions.
- Diabetics: Not recommended because of the potential to lower blood sugar levels from the Release pills.
Remember to engage your healthcare professional before starting on GOLO or any new diet plan.
What are doctors saying about GOLO?
Doctors have mixed views on the GOLO diet. Many of them question the effectiveness of the GOLO Release supplement and raise concerns about its long-term safety.
“I’m wary of any diet that is supplement-based because they’re not regulated the way medications are regulated,” says Jessica Cording, R.D., C.D.N., a dietitian and health coach, and author of The Little Book of Game-Changers.
She goes on to say that she would not recommend it to anyone who does not have a physician who can monitor them.
Another Registered Dietician named Alyssa Pike R.D., mentioned that “the GOLO diet is essentially a calorie-restricted diet that requires an expensive supplement."
She is the senior manager of nutritional communications for the International Food Information Council.
It will be interesting to see what more doctors think of the diet over time.
How much does the GOLO Diet cost?
The cost of the GOLO Diet ranges between $59.99 to $119.85 per month, depending on how much poundage you're aiming to lose. Here's a quick breakdown:
Desired Weight Loss
Recommended Amount of Release
Price per Month
1 bottle of Release
2 bottles of Release
3 bottles of Release
You also get their 'Golo for Life' guidebook and myGolo, which is a subscription program that is full of meal plans and recipes.
Overall, the GOLO Diet has a few potential side effects that you should be aware of. If you experience any of these side effects, stop following the diet and consult your doctor.
And if you are looking for something to add to your regime that may help with weight loss, try a high protein bone broth powder like the one from Bluebird Provisions.
Disclaimer: this information is for educational purposes only and has not been evaluated by the FDA or CFIA. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or healthcare issue. Please consult your primary care physician for advise on any of this.