What Do You Eat On The GOLO Diet? (Food List)

The GOLO food list refers to the specific foods recommended for consumption while following the GOLO diet, as outlined in the GOLO For Life Plan. This list emphasizes nutritional, organic, and whole foods that align with various dietary preferences and needs, such as low-carb, vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, raw, paleo, keto, low-fat, high-protein, fiber-rich, dairy-free, plant-based, Mediterranean, superfoods, non-GMO, and clean eating.

The primary reason for adhering to the GOLO food list is to achieve a calorie deficit, essential for weight loss. Typically, individuals on the GOLO diet consume between 1,300 to 1,800 calories per day, varying based on factors like age, gender, and physical activity. According to a 2022 study by Monica K. Esquivel from the University of Hawaii at Manoa, whole foods plant-based eating patterns have led to significant weight reductions, with an average weight loss of 5-9 pounds over 6 months to 1 year.

Such diets can decrease the body mass index (BMI) by 5-7 points in overweight and obese individuals. By promoting satiety and reducing calorie intake, the diet facilitates a daily energy deficit of 500-1,000 calories, paving the way for sustainable weight loss at a healthy rate of 1-2 pounds per week.

The following list details what you can eat on the GOLO diet, its nutritional and weight loss benefits and compares the GOLO food list with other weight loss programs, such as Optavia 5 and 1.

  1. Fruits
  2. Vegetables
  3. Grains
  4. Legumes
  5. Nuts and Seeds
  6. Healthy Fats
  7. Meat
  8. Fish
  9. Dairy

1. Fruits

Fruits are naturally sweet or sour plant-based foods valued for their nutrition and culinary use. Within the GOLO food list, they are highlighted as essential, given their health advantages and role in supporting weight loss.

According to a 2016 study by Satya P. Sharma from Chonbuk National University Medical School, fruits play a pivotal role in weight management and overall health. Firstly, fruits are low in energy density, meaning they offer fewer calories per unit of volume compared to many processed foods, helping in reducing overall caloric intake.

Their high dietary fiber content extends feelings of fullness, thereby controlling appetite and preventing overconsumption. Furthermore, fruits are rich in essential vitamins and minerals that influence metabolic pathways associated with obesity, ensuring that the body functions optimally.

Additionally, the presence of non-essential phytochemicals in fruits, like polyphenols and flavonoids, provides anti-obesity effects by influencing lipid metabolism, inflammation, and energy expenditure.

On the GOLO diet, you are encouraged to consume the following fruits.

  • Berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries)
  • Apples
  • Oranges
  • Grapefruit
  • Bananas
  • Kiwi
  • Pineapple
  • Mango

2. Vegetables

Vegetables are edible plants or parts of plants that are consumed for their nutritional value, often as part of a meal. These include a variety of types such as leafy greens, root vegetables, and cruciferous vegetables, many of which are emphasized on the GOLO food list.

According to a 2018 study by Monica Nour from The University of Sydney, increased vegetable consumption is associated with favorable weight-related outcomes. The research highlights that the relationship between vegetable intake and weight is dose-dependent, where higher intakes lead to the lowest risks of weight gain.

Specifically, individuals consuming four or more vegetable servings daily over a decade had an 82% reduced risk of gaining more than 3.4 kg.

This suggests that adhering to recommended daily vegetable targets can potentially reduce the risk of long-term weight gain. Additionally, while the impact of vegetables on weight loss appears modest, the consistent inverse association between vegetable intake and weight suggests their importance in weight maintenance.

On the GOLO diet, you can consume a variety of vegetables listed below.

  • Leafy greens (e.g., spinach, kale, arugula)
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Bell peppers
  • Carrots
  • Cucumbers
  • Tomatoes

3. Grains

Grains are the edible seeds of plants, comprising a vital source of energy in many diets due to their carbohydrate content. While they are foundational in numerous traditional meals, grains also hold prominence in dietary plans like the GOLO food list.

According to a 2011 study by Rosalba Giacco from the CNR-Institute of Food Science, the consistent consumption of whole grains is associated with a reduction in BMI and less body weight gain. While the exact reasons remain debated, whole grain consumption could be a marker of a healthier lifestyle or inherently contribute to weight management.

Potential mechanisms include the lower energy density of whole grain products, reduced glycemic index, fermentation of non-digestible carbohydrates leading to satiety signals, and modulation of intestinal microflora.

Even though some clinical trials have provided mixed results, whole grains are recommended due to their multiple health benefits, including a decreased risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and certain cancers.

The following is the list of grains you can eat on the GOLO diet.

  1. Quinoa
  2. Oats
  3. Brown rice
  4. Barley
  5. Millet
  6. Whole wheat
  7. Buckwheat
  8. Bulgur

4. Legumes

Legumes, which include beans, lentils, chickpeas, and dry peas, belong to the Fabaceae family. These non-oil seeds are notable for their high protein, fiber, and micronutrient levels. In the GOLO diet, legumes are endorsed for their nutritional value and benefits.

According to a 2016 study by Shana J Kim from the Toronto 3D Knowledge Synthesis and Clinical Trials Unit, the inclusion of dietary pulses, which are a subset of legumes, can aid in weight control. The study found that diets containing dietary pulses led to a modest weight reduction, even without intended caloric restrictions.

Over a median duration of six weeks, there was a significant weight loss of around 0.34 kg in diets that incorporated dietary pulses, such as legumes, compared to those without them. Furthermore, the research suggested that consuming dietary pulses might also reduce body fat percentage.

On the GOLO diet, you can incorporate a variety of legumes, including beans (like black beans, kidney beans, and pinto beans), lentils, chickpeas (garbanzo beans), and dry peas. These legumes not only offer a rich source of protein and fiber but also align with the diet’s emphasis on whole, nutritious foods.

5. Nuts and Seeds

Nuts and seeds are nutrient-dense, edible kernels obtained from plants, offering a combination of protein, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals. They are often categorized based on their culinary definitions, which encompass tree nuts like almonds and walnuts, as well as seeds like chia and flaxseeds. These wholesome foods are integral components of the GOLO food list.

According to a 2022 study by Rajiv Balakrishna from the University of Bergen, consuming nuts and seeds has been directly linked with numerous health benefits.

Regular intake of these foods, specifically around 28 grams per day, is associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases, a 21% relative risk reduction of cardiovascular ailments, an 11% decrease in cancer mortality, and a 22% reduction in overall mortality.

Additionally, the consumption of nuts has been shown to inversely correlate with mortality from respiratory and infectious diseases and diabetes. Thus, including nuts and seeds in the diet aligns with the health-centric goals of the GOLO plan. The following is the list of nuts and seeds you can eat on the GOLO diet.

  • Almonds
  • Walnuts
  • Chia seeds
  • Flaxseeds
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Sunflower seeds

6. Healthy Fats

Healthy fats refer to beneficial lipids derived from natural sources that play essential roles in supporting overall health. They are integral to numerous bodily functions, including supporting brain health, reducing inflammation, and aiding in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins. In the GOLO food list, healthy fats are highlighted as essential for balanced nutrition.

The inclusion of healthy fats in the GOLO diet aligns with modern nutritional understanding, as emphasized in a 2017 study by Ann G. Liu in the Nutrition Journal. The study underscores the challenges of nutrient-based recommendations and highlights the newfound appreciation for fats, particularly those from plant and seafood sources.

The recent scientific consensus advocates for a shift from focusing on total fat intake to emphasizing the quality and source of fats. Consequently, while one’s total fat intake might exceed 35% of daily calories, if the fats are derived from healthful sources like those in the GOLO food list shown below, they can contribute positively to overall health.

  • Avocado
  • Olive oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Flaxseed oil
  • Almond butter
  • Peanut butter

7. Meat

Meat refers to the edible flesh of animals, primarily coming from livestock like cows, pigs, and poultry. It serves as a significant source of essential nutrients, including protein, vitamins, and minerals. Within the GOLO food list, meat is incorporated as a component for those seeking protein-rich foods.

According to a 2022 study by Faidon Magkos from the University of Copenhagen, consuming unprocessed red meat does not adversely affect cardiovascular risk factors and body weight. The study further indicated that both moderate and high amounts of beef in diets, post-successful weight loss, showed similar effects on body weight, energy metabolism, and cardiovascular risk factors during weight maintenance.

Participants observed a decrease in body fat content and an increase in lean mass, irrespective of the beef intake amount. This suggests that red meat, when consumed as part of a balanced diet, can be incorporated into weight loss maintenance strategies without negative impacts on health.

This list shows the types of lean meats you can eat on the GOLO diet.

  • Turkey
  • Pork
  • Chicken
  • Lamb
  • Goat
  • Beef

8. Fish

Fish are cold-blooded aquatic vertebrates that have gills, scales, and often fins used for swimming. They can be found in both freshwater and marine environments, ranging from tiny species to large game fish. Including fish in the GOLO diet can be beneficial for weight loss, especially when incorporated into an energy-restricted diet.

A 2007 study led by Inga Thorsdottir from the University of Iceland revealed that consuming either lean or fatty fish, or even fish oil, as part of such a diet resulted in approximately 1 kg more weight loss in 4 weeks compared to a similar diet without seafood or marine-origin supplements.

This is particularly notable among young, overweight men. The nutritional profile of fish, being rich in essential fatty acids and lean protein, can enhance the effectiveness of calorie-restricted diets, promoting better weight loss outcomes.

This list outlines the fish and seafood allowed on the GOLO diet.

  1. Salmon
  2. Cod
  3. Tuna
  4. Shrimp
  5. Mackerel
  6. Haddock
  7. Sardines
  8. Tilapia
  9. Trout
  10. Clams

9. Dairy

Dairy refers to products made from the milk of mammals, primarily cows, but also goats, sheep, and buffalo. These products include milk, cheese, yogurt, butter, and ice cream. In the GOLO food list, dairy is prominently featured due to its potential nutritional advantages when added to the diet.

According to a 2012 study by Amin Salehi-Abargouei from Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, dairy consumption can play a pivotal role in weight management and body composition. The research found that increased dairy intake during energy-restricted diets led to a significant reduction in body fat mass, an increase in lean mass, and a decrease in waist circumference.

Furthermore, high-dairy weight loss diets resulted in more significant weight loss and body fat reduction compared to diets with lower dairy intake. This suggests that dairy products, when consumed as part of a controlled diet, can offer substantial benefits for weight management and overall body composition.

On the GOLO food list, dairy holds a significant position, emphasizing its potential nutritional benefits when incorporated into the diet.

The GOLO diet allows the following dairy options.

  1. Milk (preferably low-fat or skim)
  2. Yogurt (plain or low-sugar varieties)
  3. Cheese (especially low-fat versions like cottage cheese or feta)
  4. Butter (in moderation)
  5. Kefir
  6. Cream (in moderation)
  7. Sour cream (in moderation)
  8. Buttermilk.

What foods are prohibited on the GOLO food list?

Foods that are not allowed on the GOLO food list include sugary foods, deep-fried items, fast food, burgers, candy, doughnuts, and any other foods that are considered unhealthy.

How does the GOLO food list compare to the Optavia diet food list?

The GOLO and Optavia diet food lists both include staples such as meats, dairy, and vegetables. However, they diverge in their recommendations on fruits and grains, with Optavia being more restrictive and not allowing them. While Optavia emphasizes one “lean and green” meal with defined serving sizes, GOLO promotes a more flexible approach with three meals per day.