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Celebrity Diets: Inspiration or Insanity?

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As we say cheerio to a summer of festival fun and poolside pigging out, it's possible that you're glancing down at the buttons popping on your cardie Tom Kitten-style and contemplating lipo - or illegally sourced amphetamine-based slimming pills at the very least. And who wouldn't after witnessing those androgynous lovelies gracing the runway at New York Fashion Week (and that's before we get started on the size zero front rows).

It's a funny time of year - as the holiday glow fades, and along with it the evidence of our pre-beach shape-up efforts, we're presented with a quandary: do you throw caution to the wind and start stockpiling cut-price tubs of Christmas Quality Street - we're in a recession after all (nothing to do with the fact that you want to eat the Big Purple Ones for breakfast, lunch and dinner for the next three months) before digging out the oversized fleeces to conceal the evidence, or do you pledge to at least ditching the holiday muffin top first?

It's a tricky one - after all, we're moving into a tubby time of year: it's Halloween next month (always involves more treats than tricks), followed by bonfire night (marshmallows, beer and hot dogs a must); and then there's Christmas: weeks of gluttony before the calorie finale of the year, The Christmas Dinner - a meal which contains, on average, three days worth of an adult woman's recommended daily calorie intake. Oink.

So it's easy to see why, with this impending calorie apocalypse (which cruelly also happens to be LBD season: cue strappy black numbers that require starvation or Spanx) plus an overload of skinny celeb images, one could decide that a month of macrobiotic dieting à la Gwyneth might be the way forward. So, what to pick? A detox, a bootcamp... maybe you could even plump for one of the popular baby food plans. And why not? While eating puréed veg like a newborn (or toothless pensioner) may leave you with breath that resembles Shrek's and barely enough energy to pick up the much-needed bottle of Listerine, pounds you will drop no doubt.

That is, after all, the sort of absurdity those Red Carpet ladies tend to indulge in, in order to rock a Herve Leger première after première - good genes (be they the DNA or J Brand variety) it ain't.

There's one very well known American trainer, whose client list resembles the Hollywood Walk of Fame, whose 30 day master plan involves lots of kale juice, protein bars and not much else. I mean, come on. I can get you thin on a diet of dust and water too. Your immune system might not thank you for it but hey, at least you'll be thin.

If my cynical take has done nothing to deter you by now and you're still tempted to stray down the route of wacky, insane and totally unhealthy in an attempt to do your own bandage-rocking at this year's office knees-up, at least follow my golden rules of dieting Tinseltown-style.

Five Golden Rules of Following a Celeb Diet

If you're following a diet that involves you eating no more than 1000 calories a day and the author's still recommending you exercise, run for the hills (not literally). You run the risk of damaging your immune system and even your heart (yo-yo dieting is now thought to damage blood vessels). The result? You might squeeze into that size 8 but you might also keel over while shopping for it.

If a diet, (or whatever the author refers to it as, 'method', 'regime', 'plan', 'system' are all 'diet' dressed up) advocates eating below 1000-1200 calories a day, do be aware that it's recommending something that goes against medical guidelines.

Re.the above, if your chosen diet does have 'method' or 'plan' in the title (or worse, 'cleanse'), you might want to re-think. Or consider following for no more than 24 hrs. Unless, of course, you want your skeleton to crumble and your ovaries to shrivel.

Be wary of any regime that guarantees you'll lose only body fat and not muscle and water; the human body doesn't work like that. When you lose weight, it'll dump what it likes and that invariably involves a combination of all three.

If an author's peddling an exercise regime with a theory that sounds a bit ropey, it probably is. You can't work muscles in any particular way that'll create 'special', elongated muscles, nor will doing specific exercises in a specific order have any great bearing on the results. If in doubt, check the science before you buy the book (or the supplements, or the protein shakes, or the monthly online membership...).