LA Weight Loss Diet Review: Why you should avoid this diet program

LA Weight Loss Diet Review:

Why You Should Avoid This Weight Loss Program At All Cost$


Vahan Karian


LA Weight Loss

Review written by: Dr. Kendra Pearsall

Dr. Pearsall’s Scorecard (Scores are 1 out of 10)

Customer reviews: 41% approval out of 90 reviews 4  
Accuracy and quality of the nutrition information 5  
Reasonable cost 4  
Uses a holistic weight loss approach, addressing the body, mind, and spirit 2  
Sensible meal plans and tasty, healthy, quick recipes 2  
Emphasis is teaching healthy lifestyle changes instead of selling products 0  
Provides a detailed functional approach to weight training and cardio fitness 1  
Easy to follow for life 2  
Offers effective weight loss products e.g. supplements, videos, techniques 3  
Advice on other weight factors (hormones, food allergies, toxicity, lifestyle) 0  
Advocates a diet of foods that are whole, natural, clean, organic and 50% raw 1  

Grade: 1/10  D- Prepackaged food at high prices.

LA Weight Loss is a popular weight loss program that advertises one-on-one counseling for only $7/week! It sounds like an amazing deal but this is just a ploy to get you in the door to sell their expensive food products and supplements. You may be shocked by what you are about to read…


LA Weight Loss Centers was founded in 1989 by entrepreneur Vahan Karian and since then has become one of the world’s fastest-growing weight management companies. It is a franchised operation, based in weight loss centers in strip malls across America. In 2005, it reported $200 million in revenues.

Despite its name, LA Weight Loss did not originate in the movie star capital, Los Angeles, California but in Horsham, Pennsylvania. Perhaps the name “LA Weight Loss Centers” was derived from the similarity of Horsham to Los Angeles with all the glamorous and sexy Amish and Mennonites living in the area.

Program Summary:

With LA Weight Loss, you are assigned a food plan and you meet three times a week, one-on-one with a counselor to get weighed and review your progress. You buy your food at the grocery store and cook your own meals. LA Weight Loss also has lab testing available for CBC, Cholesterol and Thyroid analysis. The program length consists of three phases which you must pay for up front: active weight loss, which is how many weeks it takes to get to your goal, then 6 weeks of stabilization, and 1 year of maintenance.

LA Weight Loss (LA) heavily promotes their product line to members, stating that they will not be eligible for the 50% refund if they do not invest in the products. These include supplements, cookbooks, snack bars, soups, hot drinks, snack bars, protein drinks, cheese curls, popcorn, salad dressings, and biscotti.

Diet Details:

The diet plan provides a list of foods to choose from and assigns you a certain number of servings of each food group based on the number of calories you are allowed to eat. For example, a 1,700 calorie diet may consist of 2.5 proteins, 3 vegetables, 3 fruits, 3 starches, 1 fat, 1 dairy, and 2 LA Lites (snack bars or protein drinks) eaten as 6 small meals a day.


LA will not give quotes over the phone as the “fees depend on the amount of weight you need to lose.” Participants have reported paying $400-$1,100 and up for the membership and another $28/week ($1,456/yr.) for the LA Lites products. The monthly cost of all 6 supplements they recommend is $140 ($1,680/yr.). Then there is the cost of other products like scales and other food items. Costs could be over $4,000 a year.



The meal plans provide a limited number of calories consumed and a plan to provide a diet that includes all food groups.

Moderately Easy

You do have to prepare your own food but the record keeping is just keeping track of the servings you eat each day.

It Works For Some People

(The bolded quotes are from a website forum entitled "LA Weight Loss Exposed" asking people's opinions about their experience with LA Weight Loss.)

DooYou: I am a wonderful success story of LA Weight Loss. First and foremost, it is expensive. However, unless you have a secret, all weight loss options are...I have lost 90 pounds being on the program for nearly a year. I am currently 10 pounds from my ideal weight and honestly enjoyed my time spent on the program. The counselors I have at the center I am going to are great and professional.

Yes, they do work on commission, but let's be fair, to work in any part of the fitness/weight loss industry, they would be fools not to. Now don't get me wrong, it was not easy. You have to be committed and really follow all of the rules of the program. Purchasing everything is optional, including the supplements and their snacks. But when I had hit my plateau, they all came in really handy.

ALotLighterNow: Since partnering with LA Weight Loss on Dec. 7, 2004, I have lost 46 lbs. and I am still losing. I follow the plan that is assigned to me...the plan is all about eating correctly. You measure portions of food and you are guided as to the classifications of food you eat daily. For instance, on my plan I can have 2 1/2 proteins,4 vegetables, 3 fruits, 3 starches, 1 fat, 1 dairy, and 2 LA Lites each day. You are given a guide that tells you what kinds of proteins, vegetables, fruits, etc. you can have and then it is up to you to make sure you only have what you are supposed to have...All I know is that it works. I am 50% to my goal and when I get there I don't plan on looking back. One of the things that others have not mentioned, is that if you make your goal and stay within 5 lbs. of it for one year, you get 1/2 your money back. So, yes, it would seem to be expensive, but the rewards you get make it a worthwhile investment.


False Advertising

In 2002, LA Weight Loss had to pay $110,000 in penalties for false advertising in a suit brought forth by New York Attorney General’s Office. Their commercials stated the cost was only $7/week making it sound like a pay as you go program when in reality the costs were more like $800 up front.

When Presented With The Costs, Bring A Defibrillator

S: I received a "coupon" from a friend and got $50 off and only have to pay $5/wk - versus the $9. When I went in and told her I wanted to lose about 50 pounds…and it will take me about 26 weeks - they say. I paid $526 up front and was told that's it...all smiles. Then on my second appointment, she gives me this bag of bars and tells me they'll discuss "bulk options" at my next appointment. I pressured her for an amount - I also am in sales...she tells me $500 - $1000. WITH my 30% coupon. She's CRAZY. LA Weight Loss is CRAZY.

Heather: I have an acquaintance at work that spent - no joke - $2,400 over the course of her 30 week program - all on supplements that she felt she ‘had to buy’.

Jen: 105 weeks to lose 90 pounds at a total cost of $6,000…I walked out.

Financing Isn’t Cheap

Of course if you don’t have the funds to plunk down you can do their "0% financing plan". However, the interest rate is only 0% for the first three months. Some reviewers reported being shock and dismay that after the three month grace period they had to start paying 23.7% interest on the amount they owed they said they were not informed that the interest rate would change.

Counselors = Salespeople

For the most part, the counselors are people who have done the LA program themselves and are not trained in nutrition or counseling. They are paid according to how much product they can convince their clients to buy which makes for biased advice.


Ok Julia, now tell us how you really feel.

Don’t Get Too Attached To Your "Counselor"--She May Not Be There Next Week

This was a post from a former LA employee commenting on the high turnover rate at the centers:

Kate: The good ones go because they get burnt out. It is very difficult to balance the genuine desire to help the client and the constant pressure from corporate. For example: let's say you and I are in a visit and the phone rings. I need to answer that call by ring 3 and go thru a "script". What's worse is that the call may be the DM calling to grade me.

The center gets graded on voice inflection, overcoming negatives, the ability to book a same day appt. (of SDA)... it goes on and on. I viewed this as a silly game that cheats the client out of my full attention. The reason I left was because of something called a "chargeback." When a client refunds, the commission you originally earned is taken back by corporate. And that's fine since that's sales... no biggie. BUT each month the center manager would also take a hit called a chargeback and not one person could explain to me how this chargeback was calculated.

Way too fishy and my attitude turned sour. The chargeback wasn't twenty bucks either, each month hundreds of dollars were being deducted from my pay and my centers refunds weren't even high!! I gave my notice and was asked not to bother and I was welcome to leave that day. The company itself leaves a lot to be desired.

LA Is A Front For Selling LA Lites

LA prides itself on the fact that you don’t have to buy pre-packaged food like Jenny Craig but the LA Lites food bars and shakes are considered essential by the LA salespeople, oops I mean "counselors". The daily menus include at least two LA products a day to curb hunger. What about using real food to curb hunger? But what’s really insane is the cost of these bars!! At $112 per month for two bars a day, you’d think you were buying bars of gold. Ok, seriously though, these bars at about $2 each but there are other bars such as LUNA bars you can buy for as low as $1 each at stores like Trader Joes. (Note: Many people recommended buying the bars on E-Bay for a cheaper price or buying LUNA bars which are supposedly identical. I recommend not buying the bars at all.)

High-Priced Candy Bars

AC: Their bars are an absolute waste of money and they won't do anything to curb your appetite for any length of time.

sexyundermyclothes : I'm a sweet craver, so for anyone to tell me I can eat what tastes like Snicker Bars twice a day and simply adjust the WAY I effortless. So ya can't knock'em for that.

Actually I can "knock'em for that". Because if you crave sweets, you are probably addicted to them and you’ll never be free of your cravings if you continue to feed your addiction. Let’s look at the ingredients of the Caramel flavored bars (I listed the unhealthy ingredients in bold):

Glucose, milk chocolate, soycrisp rice, soy protein concentrate, sugar, soynuts, honey, modified milk ingredients (whey, whey protein concentrate), brown sugar, hydrogenated vegetable oil, hydrogenated palm kernel oil, salt, soy lecithin, natural and artificial flavors

Nutrition Facts:

Serving Size: 1 bar
Amount Per Serving
Calories 160
Total Fat 4g
Total Carbohydrate 23g 8%

Sugars 16g
Dietary Fiber 1g 0%
Protein 8g 16%

What’s wrong with this picture?

For one, these bars are mostly processed sugar. Sugar is listed as the first ingredient which means is it the main ingredient and then it is listed in various forms FOUR other times (colored in bold).

Soy is the second main ingredient in the bars. Virtually all soy now is genetically modified which has been shown to cause health problems in laboratory animals. Soy is also highly processed and unless it is fermented, it can interfere with your hormonal balance. Soy, contrary to popular manipulated beliefs, is not a health food.

They also contain hydrogenated oils which are linked to heart attacks and cancer. You’d be better off eating a Snickers bar (for $.50), at least that doesn’t have hydrogenated oils and has some fat that will provide satiety unlike these low-fat bars of sugar.

Natural and artificial flavors --I really hate that companies are allowed to use nebulous ingredient descriptors like this. It is anyone's guess what this means but according to Russell Blaylock, M.D., MSG is often listed on the label as "natural and artificial flavors". MSG is a flavor enhancer. It is a tasteless chemical that stimulates your brain to think that the food you are eating tastes better than it really does. It also stimulates brain cells to death.

Eating the recommended two LA Lites bars a day is equal to 320 calories a day which means 1/4 of the daily calories for the 1200 diets, will be in the form of processed junk food.

Want to do the program without buying the bars or protein drinks? Good Luck!...

RedRabbit: I told the counselors that I would not do the LA Lites; I have compared the nutrition information to other diet foods like SlimFast shakes and found them to be almost identical; in calories, calories from fat,...etc. I keep writing in my diary the use of the SlimFast shakes and every time the counselors take a look, they get upset. The thing that really gets me is the no-bars/no counsel treatment that you will get; even paying $500 membership.

Other Processed Junk Food Options At LA Weight Loss


90 calories
Fat 0
Carbohydrates 22
Fiber 1

Sucrose, fructose, real fruit blend, cellulose gum, natural and artificial flavor, tricalcium phosphates, citric acid, xantham gum, maltodextrin, cargeenan, sucralose, alginate, FD&C Red 40, FD&C yellow 5

The smoothie mix contains sucralose which is an artificial sweetener discovered while scientists were trying to invent insecticides. Please read my book Sweet Deception: Why Splenda, NutraSweet, and the FDA May Be Hazardous to Your Health for more information about Splenda. The artificial colors FD&C Red 40, FD&C yellow 5 have not been thoroughly tested for neurotoxicity but studies have shown a significant improvement in children with ADHD (attention deficit) when the artificial colors are eliminated from their diet.

Toffee Pecan Popcorn:

Evaporated cane juice, cane syrup , air popped popcorn, pecans, soy nuts

LA dressing:

sodium benzoate, potassium sorbate(questionable preservatives)

LA also sells a bottle of fruit juice concentrate for $25 to use during a two day "cleanse" where you drink the juice and eat unlimited protein and vegetables. Fruit juice concentrate is another form of sugar but if you want it you can buy it for about $2-3 dollars in the grocery store.

Charged For Bars Not Received Or Not Used

Mary: I have a doctor's note advising them I cannot use the Protein bars and have several $$ tied up in "care credit" that I am paying on monthly. The local store will not give me credit, and they will not even discuss it with me. I have called the customer service line, only to receive voice mail to leave a message; I have and have not yet received a phone call back from them!! I have contacted "care credit" and they are mailing me a dispute form, but until then I have to pay on my line of credit. I do not have all the product that I have been charged for and am only looking for credit for merchandise that I have not yet picked up…the credit company made mention of the fact that others have called too!!! I told them upfront I may not be able to use their bars because of my medical problem and they said ‘no problem.'

Julia: I am a customer of LA Weight Loss. I got RIPPED OFF in a BIG WAY. I did not even lose an ounce with LA Weight Loss!!! I put my program on Care Credit and initially the sales lady acted like it was only going to be $500.00. They never told me upfront that when I got my LA Lites and supplements, YOU ONLY PICK UP YOUR BULK SUPPLIES WHEN YOU VISIT THE CENTER AND IN MY CASE THEY WERE ALREADY PAID FOR WITH CARE CREDIT, SINCE I STOPPED GOING, I NOW CANNOT GET THE REST OF THE BULK THAT I PAID FOR. LA WEIGHT LOSS IS A HUGE RIPOFF FOLKS - PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE DO NOT EVEN STEP IN THE DOOR OF THAT PLACE.

Thanks to LA Weight Loss and the fact that they did not tell me that if I failed to pay off my Care Credit by the end of the promotional date, HUGE FINANCE CHARGES WOULD BE RACKED ONTO MY BILL. I was making minimal payments up until after the promotional date, when I got my last bill which stated they just tacked on $95.61 worth of finance charges. ALSO CARE CREDIT TOOK A CHECK I SENT THEM FOR PAYMENT, CASHED IT, AND THEN NEVER POSTED IT TO MY ACCOUNT. THANKS TO LA WEIGHT LOSS, MY BILL RACKED UP TO $1545 AND POTENTIALLY RUINING MY CREDIT.

Exercise Is Not A Priority or Even Encouraged

S: The thing that really bothers me is that they don't encourage you to exercise. What good is dieting w/o it? They never ask if you are even trying to exercise.

Only Successful New Clients Are Treated With Respect

Cindy: Oh, by the way, since I am now a seasoned client -- new customers will get jumped before me during visits-- even if they enter the center after me --- why? Only new customers have appointments --- when you become a "client" you are seen when/if you drop into the center at their discretion -- bring a magazine or lap top --- they have your money, you are no longer a promising sale!

Ann: Then, I hit a plateau and have not lost any weight since. After I stopped losing so much weight, I have not been treated with any respect and it takes a whole 2 minutes to get weighed, counseling is non-existent and I am on my merry way. I purchased this program hoping the counselors would help me when I go through the rough times. What I found out is they don't know how to help you when you need it most. I am very disappointed and sad I wasted all my money.

Use Of Public Approval Or Shame

Leslie: God forbid you go in for your thrice weekly weigh-in and you have actually gained weight - yes even 4 oz. - that means they don't ring the little bell after they weigh you. There's just silence when you leave the weigh in room. If the bell does get rung, there is clapping, woo hoo's, etc. The whole place knows if you have been good or bad.

The 50% Refund Is A Mirage

S: I know of no one who has qualified for the refund.

G. Neal: Another thing people should know about their so-called "guarantee" to lose weight: it only applies if you go 3 times per week & if you eat 2 LA Lites per day.

F: Never use the care credit and don't bank on the 50% total refund, it will never come. I've seen countless people come in for their refunds and be told they missed a session or didn't buy enough bars as stated in "the contract". I expected $300 back but have spent over $400 trying to get back $300--silly huh?

LA Is Obsessed With Sodium Avoidance

LA counselors state that sodium is bad because it causes water retention and that you should buy low-sodium LA products like LA soup and LA salad dressings. As a physician I will tell you that water retention is only an issue for people who retain water such as those with heart failure. The rest of us don’t have to watch our sodium intake like a hawk. But then they wouldn’t have an excuse to sell you their low-sodium product line would they?



About the Author:
Dr. Kendra Pearsall, N.M.D. is a Naturopathic Medical Doctor specializing in natural weight loss and food addiction. She created to help millions of people achieve optimal health, natural weight loss and life success with her free weekly e-newsletter (sign up at the top of this page.)