by Anna Tyzack)
If your New Year's diet has already ground to a burger-induced halt, perhaps you're just following the wrong slimming plan? For the past couple of years it's been all about the 5:2 diet - two fasting days per week - but going by the number of new slimming books already released this year, in 2014 we can enjoy (if that's the right word) experimenting with a whole host of punishing weight loss regimes.
Here are a few that might appeal:
The Every Other Day Diet
Who wrote it? Dr Krista Varady (the scientist who came up with the 5:2 diet but didn't make it into a book) and Bill Gottlieb
Tagline? "The only fasting diet priven by science"
What does it involve? Otherwise known as the 4:3 diet, only 500 calories to be consumed on Diet Day but on the ensuing Feast Day you can eat whatever you want and as much as you want.
Benefits? No long term feelings of hunger - you can always eat what you like tomorrow. According to Dr Varady, 500 calorie intake is perfectly safe on an every other day basis and your hunger vanishes after two weeks. In four weeks you can lose as much as 12 pounds, over time there is no limit to the amount of weight you can lose. Along with wight loss, dieters saw significant improvements in cholesterol levels, blood pressure and blood sugar count.
The catch? You will get very, very hungry
Celebrity fans? None so far
What the guinea pig says: "I am a former bowel cancer patient who weighted 96kg before starting the diet 16 months ago. I felt angry and upset to begin with and had difficulty socialising as I was so hungry. I was losing weight though - 12 pounds in two weeks - and gradually the difficulty eased. I now eat more healthily as a rule and will continue this diet for the rest of my life. It taught me the meaning of healthy food and balanced eating."
Every Other Day Diet by Dr Krista Varady (Hodder and Stoughton, RRP £13.99) is available to order from Telegraph Books at £12.99 + £1.35 p&p. Call 0844 871 1514 or visit books.telegraph.co.uk
Who wrote it? Reluctant exerciser Dr Michael Mosley (author of last year's cult execise book Fast Diet, the 5:2 diet) with fitness journalist Peta Bee.
Tagline? Get fitter, stronger and better tones in just a few minutes a day
What does it involve? Long and slow (eg jogging or running) is not the way to go, according to Dr Mosley; it's all about high intensity training. The book suggests a 2 - 5 minute warm up and dynamic stretch to heat the body followed by short bursts of maximum effort training, be it in the pool, on a bike, cross-training or on a rowing machine. These bursts or HITs begin with 40 seconds' hard exercise sandwiches between a couple of minutes of more gentle activity increasing to four minutes of hard exercise over several weeks. The book also includes Fast walking routines and Fast strength: how many press-ups or abdominal crunches you can do in 30 seconds.
Benefits? Suitable whatever your fitness level and easy to fit in with a busy lifestyle. High intensity training can be more effective than much longer periods of low-impact exercise for those trying to lose weight. When it comes to exercise, Dr Mosley believes that less can be more.
The catch? If exercise is not already part of your life you need to be disciplined enough to put the routines in the book into pratice
Celebrity fans? None so far although it might well appeal to fans of the Fast Diet such as Miranda Kerr and Gwyneth Paltrow.
What the guinea pig says: "Fast Exercise is more like common sense than the 'health revolution' it has been called elsewhere" Theo Merz, Daily Telegraph
Fast Exercise by Dr Michael Mosley (Short Books, RRP £7.99) is available to order from Telegraph Books at £7.99 + £1.10 p&p. Call 0844 871 1514 or visit books.telegraph.co.uk.
The Honey Diet
Who wrote it? Mike McInnes, a former Boots chemist and nutrition expert who, while working with athletes discovered that fructose-rich foods (of which honey is the Gold Standard) help burn fat and increase stamina.
Tagline: Lose a stone in one month and keep it off forever
What does it involve? Good healthy eating and plenty of honey. The rules are as follows: switch sugar for honey, have a honey drink before bed, avoid junk food, eat breakfast and unlimited fruit and veg, choose full-fat dairy products and drink lots of water. On top of this, have one no-carb day each week, switch to brown carbohydrates, include protein in every meal or snack and eat no more than two pieces of fruit per day. According to McInnes, a couple of tablespoons of honey before bed helps you drop off to sleep more easily and fuels weight loss. Honey, unlike any other sugar, is uniquely formulated to replenish the brain's fuel reserve, he says, keeping the brain well supplied throughout the night.
Benefits: Doesn't involve starving yourself.
The catch? You have to be prepared to eat a lot of honey.
Celebrity fans? Davina McCall, Katherine Jenkins and Mollie King
What the guinea pig says: "The hardest thing is getting your head around cutting out processed sugars but honey is a great alternative. I slept far better after a spoon of honey at night and woke with plenty of energy. I probably lost about 2 pounds per week."
The Honey Diet by Mike McInnes (Coronet, RRP £13.99) is available to order from Telegraph Books at £10.99 + £1.35 p&p. Call 0844 871 1514 or visit books.telegraph.co.uk.
The Paleo Diet Made Easy
Who wrote it? Joy Skipper, a sport nutritionist and food writer
Tagline: Eat like your ancestors to lose weight and get fit. Simple food from the Stone Age brought to life for the modern age.
What does it involve? A diet of meat (organic and grass-fed preferably), fish, vegetables, fruits, eggs, nuts and seeds - food that the human body has evolved to eat. Avoid processed ingredients, trans fats, dairy and sugar, legumes, pulses, dairy, cereal grains, and potatoes. The book features more than 100 paleo-friendly recipes including Thai green curry, Moroccan rack of lamb and apple, almond and cinnamon muffins.
Benefits? You're eating foods that your body is designed to digest.
The catch? Incredibly restrictive: no alcohol and no milk! Skipper concludes that "there is a good chance you may lose weight", which isn't enough of a guarantee when you consider all the changes you have to make to your diet.
Celebrity fans? Miley Cyrus, Megan Fox, Jessica Biel, Jack Osbourne
What the guinea pig says: "It allows me to eat much more than any other diet that isn't Atkins, just not B (bread, butter, biscuits), C (carbs, crisps, chocolate and cheese), D (dairy) and P (pasta, potatoes) and W (wheat), which almost all diets exclude. It makes me feel better rather than lose weight; the exlusion of wheat and dairy has improved my migraines enormously."
The Paleo Diet Made Easy by Joy Skipper (Hamlyn, RRP £7.99) is available to order from Telegraph Books at £7.99 + £1.10 p&p. Call 0844 871 1514 or visit books.telegraph.co.uk
The Reboot with Joe Juice Diet
Who wrote it? Joe Cross who's film Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead documented his attempt to eat nothing but fresh fuit and vegetable juices for 60 days. He lost six stone and was able to stop taking medication for the first time in many years
Tagline: Lose weight, get healthy, and feel amazing.
What does it involve? A "reboot" consuming only fruit and vegetable juice. There are 3-day, 5-day, 15-day and 30-days plans included in the book. According to Cross, when you consume only juice, your system is flooded with an abundance of vitamins, minerals and nutrients that help your body stay strong and fight disease. A typical "reboot" day features about four glasses of fresh juice (recipes included), 64oz additional fluids such as water, coconut water or herbal tea. The book also includes a 10 day juicing plus eating reboot and the relevant recipes.
The benefits? Just think of the vitamins and antioxidants in all that fruit and vegetables.
The catch? You've got to like juice.
Celebrity fans? None so far.
What the guinea pig says: After watching Joe's movie in 2012 Steve Barney, drummer, lost four stone by adhering to Joe's juice detox. "After adding fresh Fruit & Vegetable juices to my life, today I am 14 stone and feeling food."
The Reboot with Jo Juice Diet by Joe Cross (Hodder and Stoughton, RRP £9.99) is available to order from Telegraph Books at £9.99 + £1.10 p&p. Call 0844 871 1514 or visit books.telegraph.co.uk
Make It Lighter
Who wrote it? Angela Nilsen, former food editor of BBC Good Food magazine.
Tagline: Healthier versions of your favourite recipes. All the taste - none of the guilt.
What does it involve? Recipes for all your favourite dishes using less fat, sugar and salt. The classic prawn cocktail, for example, is 303 calories whereas Nilsen's lighter version is 186. Her crispy chicken is 319 calories as opposed to 412. Nilsen maintains that the more you cook lighter recipes, the more you will prefer them to the richer alternatives.
The benefits? It's the perfect cookbook for a keen chef who doesn't want a muffin top.
The catch? If you're trying to lose weight maybe you should steer away from "lighter" treats such as fish n' chips (649 calories), brownies (191 calories) and cupcakes (234 calories) altogether?
Celebrity fans? None so far.
What the guinea pig says: After tasting the lasagne (447 calories), cooked by his wife, chef Aldo Zilli claimed it was "tasty and light". You can try it yourself by following the recipe below.
Make It Lighter by Angela Nilsen (Hamlyn, RRP £14.99) is available to order from Telegraph Books at £12.99 + £1.35 p&p. Call 0844 871 1514 or visit books.telegraph.co.uk
Lasagne recipe by Angela Nilson
For the meat sauce
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 medium carrots, diced
3 plump garlic cloves, finely chopped
250 g (9 oz) lean rump steak, trimmed of all fat, thinly sliced, then very finely chopped
250 g (9 oz) lean pork mince
100 ml (3½ fl oz) red wine
2 tablespoons tomato purée
400 g (14 oz) can plum tomatoes
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg, plus a pinch handful of basil leaves, torn
For the other layers
300 g (11 oz) spinach leaves
1 medium egg
250 g (9 oz) ricotta cheese
Handful of flat leaf parsley leaves, chopped
6 wide sheets (about 175 g/6 oz) no pre-cook lasagne
125 g (4 ½ oz) ball mozzarella, preferably buffalo, roughly chopped
50 g (2 oz) Parmesan cheese, coarsely grated
200 g (7 oz) cherry tomatoes on the vine
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Basil leaves and green salad leaves, to serve
Make the meat sauce. Heat the oil in a large sauté pan, then add the onion and fry for 5 minutes until golden. Add the carrots and garlic and fry for 2 minutes more. Stir in both meats, breaking up the pork with a wooden spoon. Cook over a high heat until the meat is no longer pink and the juices are released.
Pour in the wine, scrape the bottom of the pan as you stir, then cook for 1–2 minutes until the liquid is reduced. Next add the tomato purée, tomatoes and 2 tablespoons water, then stir to break up tomatoes. Add ½ teaspoon nutmeg and some pepper, cover, then simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Taste, season with salt if necessary and stir in the torn basil. The sauce can be chilled for up to 1 day at this stage.
Meanwhile, prepare the other layers. Tip the spinach into a large bowl and pour over boiling water. After 30 seconds, tip the spinach into a colander and put under cold running water briefly to cool. Squeeze to remove excess water. Beat the egg in a bowl, then mix with the ricotta, parsley, the pinch of nutmeg and pepper.
Soak the lasagne sheets in a single layer in boiling water for 5 minutes. (Although the packet says no pre-cook, I find soaking improves the texture.) Drain well. Preheat the oven to 200°C (fan 180°C /400°F/gas mark 6).
Spread a few big spoonfuls of sauce to barely cover the base of a 20 x 28 cm (8 x 11 inches) ovenproof dish. Cover with 2 sheets of lasagne, then spread over half the remaining sauce. Cover with 2 more lasagne sheets, then scatter the spinach evenly over. Spread the ricotta mixture on top and cover with 2 more lasagne sheets. Spread with the remaining sauce, then scatter over the mozzarella and Parmesan to almost cover the meat. Top with the cherry tomatoes and some pepper, then cover loosely with foil.
Bake for 35 minutes, then remove the foil and bake 5–10 minutes more. Leave for a few minutes, then scatter with basil and serve with salad.