HEALTH & WELLNESS

Ample serving of new diet books to jump-start 2015 health resolutions

Guiding principals of 'The 5 Skinny Habits': Don't overeat, and exercise at the right pace

You probably know someone who lives on doughnuts but never seems to gain weight. While others just glance at a bagel and pack on the pounds.

That's just proof that we all have different nutritional demands and deficits, said Traci D. Mitchell, author of the coming "Belly Burn Plan" diet book. She advocates a personalized plan of eating and exercising tailored to your body type — not the one-size-fits-all trendy diet of the moment.

"It's a necessity, in my opinion," Mitchell said. "There is no silver-bullet approach that works for everyone. I think you have a better chance of sticking to a diet that's tailored to fit you, instead of a cookie-cutter approach."

There are four body types, Mitchell said, categorized according to where you tend to store fat. If you're an "apple," it all shows up in the midsection. "Pears" carry it in their hips and thighs. The "inverted pyramid" stores the extra weight in the upper body, tapering down to narrower hips and thighs. The "hourglass" adds weight overall from head to toe.

These body types correspond to hormone irregularities in the body, Mitchell said.

"When you eat for your body type, you begin to see results quickly, and you stick with it because it works," she said.

For example: Apple shapes indicate insulin and cortisol irregularities. So the apple needs to limit carbs and caffeine and eat a high-protein diet. A pear, meanwhile, is likely suffering from estrogen overload that can contribute to lower-body weight gain. A diet that is lower in fat (no more than 20%) and higher in unrefined carbs will jump-start weight loss, Mitchell says.

There is one common denominator that Mitchell sees in almost all her clients: too much stress.

"Stress management is huge. It's a big contributor to weight gain. A failure to manage your everyday lifestyle leads to weight gain."

"The Belly Burn Plan" arrives on bookshelves in March. As we kick off 2015 with health and fitness resolutions still fresh in our minds, here's a look at some of the newest books arriving on the multibillion-dollar diet scene.

You'll notice a trend: They almost all home in on a particular angle (your hormones, your psychology, food allergies and even your lack of sleep) as the weight gain villain.

As you peruse, remember this: You don't need to buy a new book to know you should cut back on junk food and should eat more vegetables. The best diet for you is the one that you'll actually stick to.

(If we overlooked your favorite approach, please let us know by commenting online. And tell us why we should write about it in a later edition of Mind & Body.)

'The 5 Skinny Habits' by David Zulberg

Let's get metaphysical. The author, a scholar, makes the case that we need only draw on ancient wisdom passed down from the likes of Aristotle and master physicians such as Maimonides and Hippocrates to live healthier, happier (and skinnier) lives, no strict dieting needed. There are two guiding principals: Don't overeat, and exercise at the right pace.

'The HD Diet' by Keren Gilbert

If you avoid dieting because you fear hunger pangs, check this one out. HD stands for a lot of things in this book, including "hydrophilic" (water absorbent) and "high hydro" (water rich). Bottom line: Eat fiber-rich foods, like trendy chia seeds, oatmeal, pears and garbanzo beans, to feel satiated between meals. This diet encourages snacking, as long as you choose HD-compliant foods.

'The Hormone Reset Diet' by Dr. Sara Gottfried

It's not you, it's your hormones. The author of last year's bestseller "The Hormone Cure" is back with a diet to back up her belief that hormone upset is undermining your ability to lose weight. Get the body's seven major metabolic hormones back in line with this "reset" diet, and your weight should follow, she said. You'll say goodbye to sugar, caffeine, dairy, grains and gluten, but you can add some back during a trial phase to see whether they affect you.

'The Skinny Gut Diet' by Brenda Watson

Health begins in the gut, writes the author, whose research delves into one of science's hottest frontiers: microbiomes. Your gut bacteria — all 100 trillion of them — contribute to everything from weight to the body's inflammation levels, the author says. You'll ditch grains and sugars as you eat to foster a healthy bacterial ecosystem and tip the scales in your favor.

'The Skinny Jeans Diet' by Lyssa Weiss

Do you like lists of tips, tricks and food swaps that will help trim calories and avoid bingeing on junk? Then you'll love this book, written in girlfriend-to-girlfriend style. One tactic that had us LOLing: Relabel your trigger foods as "bad boyfriend" foods — and kick 'em to the curb.

'The Thyroid Solution Diet' by Dr. Ridha Arem

Could your thyroid be making you fat? Arem, an endocrinologist, makes the case that an off-kilter thyroid could menace your weight-loss efforts. (Cutting calories will actually cause you to gain weight if you have a thyroid imbalance, Arem writes.) If you also struggle with depression, irritability, thinning hair and dry skin, you might recognize yourself in these pages. His solution includes a protein-rich, low-glycemic take on the Mediterranean diet.

'The 20/20 Diet' by Dr. Phil McGraw

The TV talk-show host wrote "The Ultimate Weight Loss Solution" in 2003, and it became a bestseller. He returns with a book that examines the psychology behind unhealthful habits. He offers a diet plan that revolves around 20 foods (chickpeas, leafy greens and yogurt among them) known for their metabolism-boosting properties.

'Zero Belly Diet' by David Zinczenko

Written by the author of the "Eat This, Not That!" series, this book is not just about unveiling six-pack abs at the beach this summer. Its title takes aim at belly fat — visceral fat — the type that signals risk of heart disease, diabetes and more. If you hate to cook, you'll enjoy the book's simple recipes. It also includes an extensive, and rigorous, workout plan to build fat-burning muscle.

'The Piper Protocol' by Tracy Piper

Cleansing, juicing, detoxing, and colonics versus enemas. This book has it all. Here's how serious this book is about juicing and cleansing: You spend three weeks working up to a rigorous weeklong juice cleanse.

'The Adrenal Reset Diet' by Alan Christianson

Your adrenal glands control cortisol. And excess cortisol contributes to weight gain, especially abdominal fat, which leads to sugar cravings and more. Break this cycle, the book argues, with lifestyle changes that slash stress, sugars and what the author labels toxic proteins, such as eggs, wheat and dairy.

'The Plan' by Lyn-Genet Recitas

You must appreciate a weight loss book that declares: "Cookies and nachos are not the problem." The "problem," says the author, is that every person's chemistry is unique. "The Plan" is a guide to discovering, through self-testing, what foods cause allergic reactions and inflammation in the body. And you might be surprised by the culprits: One woman lost 4 pounds and a bad case of eczema by eliminating raw almonds.

'20 Pounds Younger' by Michele Promaulayko

If that title doesn't hook you, this premise might: It's time to make yourself the priority in your life and defeat the stress monster. If you do and make time for healthful eating and exercise, you'll see the difference in your face as well as your hips, according to this lifestyle makeover approach that also includes beauty tips.

'The Burn' by Haylie Pomroy

Most diet books focus on macronutrients: Carbs, protein and fat. But Pomroy argues that micronutrients make all the difference in reducing inflammation, improving digestion, balancing hormones and getting you past your weight loss plateau. A bonus (or a drawback, depending on your point of view) is Pomroy's reliance on three simple recipes as the backbone of her eating plan.

'The Ultimate Diet REVolution' by Jim Karas

A classic approach to revving up your metabolism: Calculate a caloric threshold for weight loss, hit it daily and build fat-burning muscle with rigorous workouts. Menus include Hawaiian pizza made on whole wheat pita and Thai turkey lettuce wraps.

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Plus: Six diets that continue to stand the test of time

Weight Watchers

This diet is for those who want to be able to eat anything — even chocolate cake. That's allowed, as long as you balance out the rest of your day (or week) to make up for it. The company just announced a personal coaching plan to connect dieters with people who have been successful with the program.

The Atkins diet

It's a green light for bacon and butter, and a red light for the bread basket. But Atkins has tweaked its message of late to make it more attractive to carb lovers: The Atkins 40 says you can eat 40 grams a day of fiber-filled carbs (including legumes, fruit and whole grains) and still lose weight.

Jenny Craig

Hate to plan menus? Not all that interested in logging time at the stove? The Jenny Craig approach takes the guesswork out of eating for your waistline, and it is all the easier if you shop from its fleet of packaged foods.

The Ornish diet

This one landed at the top of U.S. News & World Report's most heart-healthy diets because strict adherence — emphasis on the word "strict" — is believed to help reverse heart disease. It's a low-fat diet rich with fresh produce, grains and seafood.

The Mediterranean diet

Adherents claim this is the most healthful and tastiest diet to follow. It avoids processed foods in favor of whole grains, vegetables, legumes, seafood and healthful fats, such as avocado and olive oil. Go easy on meat and sparingly on sweets.

Vegetarian/vegan

The rules are pretty simple. No meat or fish for vegetarians, and no animal products whatsoever for vegans. Anything else goes, which is why some critics say it's not necessarily a healthful diet and can be difficult to adhere to. Avoid processed-food traps, though.

Paleo

This diet has something in common with the vegetarian/vegan diet: It's hard to argue its merits, assuming you can stick with it. You eat like your early ancestors might have, embracing veggies, nuts, seeds, meat, seafood and occasionally enjoying seasonal fruit and sweet potatoes. Strict adherence means no white potatoes, gluten, grains, sugar or dairy.

rene.lynch@latimes.com

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