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skinny reading

One plan advises you to follow it three times a week. Another allows no snacks — except on certain days. And a third advocates for eating up to 20-percent less.

All the philosophies in the latest bunch of diet books promise to help you shed weight. Here are some of the new titles, their plans and some perspective from Dawn Jackson Blatner, a registered dietitian and spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association.

"The Alternate-Day Diet," Dr. James B. Johnson with Dr. Donald R. Laub Sr. (Putnam Adult)

The plan: Diet every other day. During the 2-week induction phase, dieters limit calories to about 500 on down days and then eat whatever they want on off days. You can then increase the down-day calories to about 25 or 35 percent of normal caloric intake.

Some perspective: There's no restriction on specific foods in this diet, and that's good, says Blatner. But she worries about the all-or-nothing approach, saying balance and moderation is important.

"The No S Diet," Reinhard Engels and Ben Kallen, (Perigee Trade)

The plan: No, the "S" does not stand for something unprintable. Rather, Engels, a software engineer and Kallen, a nutrition writer, offer a diet that has three rules and one exception, all of which begin with the letter S: no sweets, snacks or seconds except on Saturdays, Sundays and Special days (birthdays, holidays).

Some perspective: The book preaches three daily meals, says Blatner. But the book allows no snacks except on weekends and holidays. "We do know that snacking controls hunger," she says. People who lose weight successfully eat about four to five times a day, she says.

"The CR Way: Using the Secrets of Calorie Restriction for a Longer, Healthier Life," Paul McGlothin and Meredith Averill, (Marlowe & Company)

The plan: The husband-and-wife team advocates for reducing calorie intake to between 5 and 20 percent below normal for a person's sex, age, height and activity level, saying that calorie restriction slows down the aging process, protects against disease and helps people lose weight and keep it off.

Some perspective; "They're saying, 'We're not telling you to eat a lot of calories, so we would like these calories to be quality calories,' " Blatner says. "As long as they are hitting all the servings on their food-guide pyramid, it can be a healthy, balanced way to live."

"The South Beach Diet Supercharged: Faster Weight Loss and Better Health for Life," Dr. Arthur Agatston with Joseph Signorile, (Rodale Books)

The plan: Five years after publication of "The South Beach Diet," Agatston collaborates with Signorile, an exercise physiologist, to add a fitness component to the program. The book includes a cardio interval walking program and toning exercises that work with each of the diet's three phases.

Some perspective: Exercise is an important component of weight loss, says Blatner, and the bulk of the diet is healthy and balanced, promoting healthful whole grains, lots of fruits and vegetables and lean protein.

"The Wall Street Diet," Heather Bauer and Kathy Matthews, (Hyperion)

The plan: Bauer, a registered dietitian who works with high-profile clients, presents a weight-loss plan for people who don't have time to count calories or weigh food. She presents strategies for tough moments, such as entertaining clients, long hungry commutes home and being stuck in an airport for several hours.

Some perspective: "It offers realistic strategies for real-life people who are dealing with real stressful jobs and lives," says Blatner. "I think that's really needed in this go-go-go culture."

"The Sugar Fix," Dr. Richard Johnson with Timothy Gower (Rodale Books)

The plan: Johnson offers a plan to dramatically cut back on high-fructose corn syrup, a standard ingredient in many foods. He links this sweetener to the obesity epidemic and says that reducing consumption will lead to weight loss and better overall health.

Some perspective: People gain weight because they eat too many calories, no matter the source, says Blatner. But some dietitians say people should be cautious about consuming too much of the sweetener because the foods it is found in are often high in calories and low in nutritional value.

" 'The Biggest Loser' Success Secrets," "The Biggest Loser" experts, cast and Maggie Greenwood-Robinson (Rodale Books)

The plan: Contestants from past seasons of the hit reality show share their inspirational stories, with before-and-after photos, food and exercise pointers and strategies for issues such as finding the time to work out and overcoming weight-loss plateaus.

Some perspective: "I think we can learn a whole lot from people who lose weight and keep it off, in terms of real-life strategies," says Blatner. "I call it biblio-therapy, or the idea that reading can help motivate us and inspire us."

"Grace on the Go: Quick Prayers for Determined Dieters," Barbara Bartocci, (Morehouse Publishing).

The plan: Bartocci, who brought us "Grace on the Go: 101 Quick Ways to Pray," presents 60-second prayers for the challenges dieters face, from making smart food choices to dealing with fashion magazines. There is even a Food Journal Prayer ..."Help me to see patterns. Deliver me from temptations. Amen."

Some perspective: "It offers some encouraging self-talk for healthful, in-the-moment decisions," says Blatner. "We all know that (with) losing weight, a lot of it comes from mindfulness. However, I will say that this is not magic. We still need to exercise and eat right."

Megan K. Scott is a writer for The Associated Press.