The GOLO diet was one of the top ten googled diets in 2016. According to the makers of GOLO, “on GOLO you will stay in the insulin optimization zone allowing you to burn fat while maintaining energy.” Developed by a New York psychiatrist named Keith Ablow, MD, GOLO targets overproduction of insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas, that causes weight gain and slows metabolic function. Through this diet, people are able to effectively regulate insulin levels, allowing the body to burn fat and lose weight.
How Does the GOLO Diet Help You Lose Weight?
The GOLO diet could also be referred to as the “insulin resistance diet” because it works by helping people prevent and reverse insulin resistance, as well as lose belly fat. It is easier to understand the theory behind this diet if you understand the cellular mechanisms of insulin resistance:
Insulin resistance occurs in people who are obese and in people with prediabetes and diabetes mellitus type 2.
When we eat carbohydrates, they are broken down into glucose (aka – sugar) which enters the bloodstream. The pancreas (located behind the stomach) responds by secreting insulin.
Insulin’s job is to help cells throughout our body absorb the glucose and use it for energy. It also helps the liver and muscles store the glucose as energy for later, called glycogen.
With insulin resistance, cells are unable to properly absorb glucose so more and more insulin is pumped from the pancreas. Over time, blood sugar rises and can lead to prediabetes, diabetes type 2, and many other health problems.
The causes of insulin resistance are thought to be: excess weight (especially around the belly) and physical inactivity.
The producers of the GOLO diet claim that “healthy and optimized insulin levels are very important in helping the body release stored fat.” Therefore, by following an insulin resistance diet, you can lose weight and potentially normalize your insulin levels.
According to the GOLO website, a 2010 controlled open clinical study followed 35 obese people on the GOLO diet for 12 months, and at 26 weeks the average weight loss was almost 31 pounds. No further results were disclosed, including evidence or statistics.
What Do I Eat on the GOLO Diet?
Unless you purchase the GOLO diet booklets and monthly weight-loss supplement (ranging from $40 to $90 per month), it is difficult to know the exact dietary instructions and portions. The GOLO website claims the diet consists of “fresh meat, fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats – and of course fresh bread, pasta, and butter.”
Other dietary guidelines to improve insulin resistance and reverse prediabetes have been documented in published clinical trials:
Limit Calorie Intake. In a study of obese patients with type 2 diabetes, two months of caloric restriction (400-800 calories per day restricted) resulted in significant improvement in insulin secretion and insulin sensitivity.
Avoid Refined Carbohydrates. High carbohydrate diets are associated with increased insulin resistance in animals and humans, especially diets high in sucrose and fructose sugars. Guidelines published in a diabetes medical journal recommend to carefully monitor carbohydrate intake and to limit carbohydrates to only those from fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes.
Eliminate Sweetened Beverages. A clinical study showed that people who drank fructose-sweetened beverages had significantly increased insulin resistance and were 26% more likely to develop diabetes.
Increase Fiber Intake. People who eat over 50 grams of fiber per day have better control of blood sugar and insulin regulation.
Replace Saturated Fats with Omega-3 Fatty Acids. People with insulin resistance should avoid saturated and trans fats and choose unsaturated fats such as tuna, walnuts, and flax seeds.
How Might the GOLO Diet Affect My Skin?
People with insulin resistance and obesity are at much higher risk for several skin conditions such as acanthosis nigricans, acne, hidradenitis suppurativa, and hirsutism. The true link between insulin resistance and these skin diseases is not understood, and many other factors can contribute to skin conditions. However, it is possible that by decreasing the risk of insulin resistance through diet, you may also decrease the risk of contracting these skin conditions:
Acanthosis nigricans – dark velvety plaques on the back of the neck, armpits, and groin area, and thought to be highly associated with insulin resistance.
Acne – insulin resistance has been shown to significantly contribute to the occurrence of acne.
Hidradenitis suppurativa – this painful, chronic disease consists of recurring pus-filled bumps, sinus tracts, and scarring. Along with obesity, insulin resistance may contribute to the occurrence of this skin disease.
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