Publishing is a dicey business, but around this time of year, there are two guarantees: A large number of Canadians will resolve to lose weight, and a hefty stack of new diet books will hit shelves to help them do it.
The sheer volume of books can overwhelm anyone who wants to lose weight. Which tome will get you toned?
Last year, at least 120 new diet titles were published nation-wide, according to BookNet Canada, a not-for-profit organization that tracks publishing data.
In such a crowded marketplace, wannabe diet gurus vie for ways to stand out. It helps to have an alluring title. Both The 4-Hour Body and The 17 Day Diet were bestsellers last year in part because of how clear their promises are.
Publishers and agents say a diet book must have one, if not all three, of the following elements: Authors must have a public profile; the book has to have a compelling hook simple enough that it can be easily explained in a sentence or two; and, of course, the diet has to work.
"Even when you think you've got everything, it still does not guarantee success in the market," says Rick Broadhead, founder of a Toronto-based literary agency that represents a number of diet book authors.
As anyone who has gone from South Beach to paleo knows, diet book trends come and go. Lisa Huie, public relations manager for Indigo Books & Music, says the titles currently popular are less focused on prescribing particular ingredients, and instead concentrate on healthy lifestyle: "Paying attention to what you're eating and how you're eating and portion control and how a healthy diet is integrated into your lifestyle."
Here, we look at the most promising titles of the slimming season.
CHOOSE TO LOSE: THE 7-DAY CARB-CYCLE SOLUTION
Author cred: Chris Powell is the trainer – sorry, make that "transformation specialist"– on the television show Extreme Makeover Weight Loss Edition.
Hook: Harness the power of carbohydrate cycling (essentially eating meals high in carbs every other day while eating low-carb meals on days in between), "a secret weapon in the health and fitness industry," to lose as much weight as you want and keep it off.
Lifestyle change: Besides eating five meals a day, you'll also have to do a 10-minute "shaper" workout (resistance training) every other day and "shredders" (cardio workouts) six days a week.
What's wrong with all those other diets: Unlike diets that make you count calories, the Carb-Cycle Solution is designed with "long-term practicality in mind" and also boasts this "colossal improvement." "It doesn't let your body adapt to a monotonous diet and exercise routine."
THE PETITE ADVANTAGE DIET: ACHIEVE THAT LONG, LEAN LOOK
Author cred: Jim Karas, a Wharton School of Business grad, shot to fame with his bestseller The Business Plan for the Body. Chances are you've seen him on The View or The Dr. Oz Show.
Hook: People 5 foot 4 and under need a special diet to look longer and leaner. From the book: "They make clothes for 'Petites' so why not a specialized diet plan?"
Lifestyle change: No cardio required (in fact, Mr. Karas argues it makes you fat) but you will have to adopt an interval-based strength training program and find yourself a weight loss BFF to support you.
What's wrong with all those other diets: They're for tall people. Well, taller, anyway, and therefore fail to address the specific needs of petites.
THE METABOLISM-BOOSTING DIET: A PERSONALIZED WEIGHT-LOSS SYSTEM FOR INCREASING ENERGY, SLEEPING BETTER, AND KEEPING THE WEIGHT OFF FOR LIFE
Author cred: Her regular appearances on CityLine, the Canadian daytime talk show, might not have the reach of some other authors on bigger shows, but Dr. Joey Shulman, founder and CEO of Shulman Weight Loss Clinics, has penned four previous diet books, including two bestsellers.
Hook: Harness the power of your metabolism for a flat stomach and say goodbye to emotional eating.
Lifestyle change: If you want to keep your metabolic engine running "full throttle," you should do short, high-intensity workouts and 20 to 30 minutes of cardio three to five times a week.
What's wrong with all those other diets: Too many of them are overly restrictive and therefore unsustainable. "Keep in mind the question 'Can I see myself following a version of this program in five years' time?' If you can't, don't do it," Dr. Shulman writes.
WHY WOMEN NEED FAT: HOW "HEALTHY" FOOD MAKES US GAIN EXCESS WEIGHT AND THE SURPRISING SOLUTION TO LOSING IT FOREVER
Author cred: Some serious science CVs – William Lassek is a former U.S. assistant surgeon general and Steven Gaulin is a professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara and former editor of the journal Evolution and Human Behavior.
Hook: Behind the mouth-watering title is the perhaps even more appealing notion that many so-called "health foods" designed to reduce saturated fat actually make women gain weight.
Lifestyle change: Prescriptions are minimal, other than to suggest people get regular exercise, and even then the prescription is pretty mild: "Regular moderate exercise may help you to have a more natural weight." May? Walking for 20 to 30 minutes a day "would be a good start for many of us," the authors write.
What's wrong with all those other diets: Women who go on diets actually gain more weight than women who diet less because "dieting sends a strong warning to the hypothalamus, telling it to store more fat for the future," according to the authors.
DIET REHAB: 28 DAYS TO FINALLY STOP CRAVING THE FOODS THAT MAKE YOU FAT
Author cred: Dr. Mike Dow is the co-host and psychotherapist on TLC's Freaky Eaters.
Hook: Food addiction is real, and once you learn to manipulate your brain chemistry to control your serotonin and dopamine levels in healthy ways you'll easily say goodbye to carbs and fat.
Lifestyle change: Success means choosing not only the foods that boost the feel-good chemicals you need, but also the activities, Dr. Dow claims. To that end, he lists more than 200 "serotonin and dopamine booster activities, including "Flying a kite," "Take a yoga or pilates class," "Make a movie on your phone" and "Play Twister."
What's wrong with all those other diets: "Diets don't work – tackling addiction does," Dr. Dow writes. Other diets rely on willpower, he argues, whereas Diet Rehab simply asks readers to "harness the power of your brain chemistry so that you'll no longer feel like a victim of your fluctuating moods and cravings."