Summer Slimdown

"Here now summer's coming around again." But the Carly Simon lyrics don't tell you the best way to shed those extra pounds gained during winter. Atkins is out. South Beach is so two years ago. And Slim-Fast feels like your grandmother's plan. But how do you separate the fads from the facts?

Fortunately--or unfortunately--for us, bookstore shelves are bulging with new diet books. We sampled some of the latest titles:

The New American Plate Cookbook: Recipes for a Healthy Weight and a Healthy Life By The American Institute for Cancer Research

Judging by the cover: Pies are yummy ... and can be good for you, too!

Recipe for success: A group of food experts got together to compile a book of meals that are healthy--to reduce, say, your risk of cancer--and still don't taste like cardboard. Sample dishes, like roasted chestnut soup and spinach lasagna, are low in saturated fat. There's also a full glossary of fruits and veggies, so you can tell your bulgur from your basil.

Bottom line: Recipes like chili burgers are fun--and the book comes with beautiful photographs. But this is the type of eating plan that requires a lifetime commitment. Not for those who want to shed some pounds fast.

The 3-Hour Diet

By Jorge Cruise

Judging by the cover: You can lose two pounds a week, so you can look like the author.

Recipe for success: Eat small snacks and meals in three-hour intervals. An included planner helps divide up your fruits, veggies, fat, protein and carbs.

Bottom line: Cruise has included lots of before-and-after photos to back up his claims. But some of his tactics--like creating a nametag for yourself with a moniker that boosts your esteem--seem a little hokey. This is the stuff that infomercials are made of.

The Volumetrics Eating Plan: Techniques and Recipes for Feeling Full on Fewer Calories By Barbara Rolls

Judging by the cover: There's an image of a vanilla sundae, an equal sign, a cookie. But this math doesn't add up. Can you eat both or neither?

Recipe for success: Well, it seems, you can eat what you want, as long as you consume fewer calories. The best meals are low in fat, high in fruits and "full of flavor." Yum.

Bottom line: Rolls is a doctor and her book reads like it. The prose is more textbook than thumb-through. There are plenty of recipes to choose from. But only the strong-willed should apply.

Body for Life for Women: A Woman's Plan for Physical and Mental Transformation

By Pam Peeke

Judging by the cover: Ladies, in just 12 short weeks, you can go from looking like Ricki Lake to Elektra on "American Gladiators."

Recipe for success: Read the opening quote from Helen Keller. Then look at the pretty pictures of women lifting weights.

Bottom line: Can anyone learn how to exercise from a book? Drop the weight of carrying around this hardcover and hire a trainer.

6 Day Body Makeover

By Michael Thurmond

Judging by the cover: You can drop a dress or pant size in six days.

Recipe for success: If you are a male "Body Type C," and your frame resembles a rectangle, then this is what you must eat: Four scrambled eggs and half a grapefruit for breakfast, four ounces of turkey for a snack, four ounces of chicken breast for lunch, four ounces of fresh tuna for another snack, four more ounces of chicken breast for dinner and 1 grapefruit before bed. Good night!

Bottom line: Thurmond claims to be a makeover expert. But it looks like you need a degree in mathematics to figure out his diet plan. And the protein phobic should avoid.

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