YOUR wallet will certainly be a lot slimmer if you sign up for a weight loss programme in the annual New Year festival of frugality.
Diets promising a magic fat banishing fix are massive business, never more so than at this time of year when post-Christmas weight loss mania kicks in for many of us.
We looked at six popular programmes -- and what they cost. Many of them involve uber-strict eating plans, consuming tiny amounts of calories and laying off carbs like spuds and bread for months. Many also entail buying into pricy supplements, special branded foods and other products.
Here are some of the most popular options and their price tags.
Motivation Weight Management Clinics
The claim: Lose a stone in under six weeks without feeling hungry or deprived.
What's involved: A 20-week programme with weekly one-to-one sessions with a mentor. A tailored low calorie, high protein, low carb, low fat diet and advice on changing bad eating habits.
Costs: Starting at €560 for 20 weeks. Add a further possible €600 for supplements and other diet aids.
Extras: Protein bars, liquid protein drinks costing around €30 a week, motivational books and CDs, €25-€35 each.
Lasting value for money? Motivation Clinics say that 86 per cent of customers 'who complete a maintenance programme' reach and maintain weight loss for more than four years.
Therein lies the rub -- can you stick it out for five months of carb deprivation, no booze and complete a maintenance programme?
Dieter experience: "I lost eight pounds in three weeks," says Anna Kelly. "But any special occasion, not to mention Christmas, is torture on this diet and I tumbled off the wagon plenty of times. It's worth the money in my opinion, but God, am I sick of protein bars..."
Costs as much as: A year's insurance for your average saloon car.
Fronted by Dr Eva Orsmond, the slightly terrifying Finnish doctor who appears on RTE's Operation Transformation.
The claim: Ten per cent weight loss within six weeks, so someone who weighs 13 stone could drop a stone. Guarantees that you'll reach your goal by the end of the programme -- if you stick to it.
What's involved: Choice of a nine-week or a 12-week programme. A tailored very low calorie, low GI, low carb plan, then a gradual reintroduction of ordinary food.
What it costs: €535 for 12 weeks, €365 for nine.
Extras: If you choose the nine-week option, then extra "nutritional supplements" will be required, costing extra.
Lasting value for money? When you return to the land of normal eating, it's all up to you to keep that lard off.
Costs as much as: A year's fancy gym membership.
The claim: It differs from other regimes in that it incorporates a strong exercise component as well as diet.
What's involved: Short, intense 20-minute gym sessions and a low-carb diet aiming to shed fat and build muscle.
What it costs: With diet and supplements, around €200 a month. A six-week supervised training programme which includes a full consultation with an expert trainer costs about €400.
Extras: Supplements and vitamins costing up to €30 a week.
Lasting value for money? Post-programme it's down to you and willpower unless you shell out for more sessions.
Costs as much as: An average annual mobile phone bill.
It's Pippa Middleton's choice of diet, reportedly.
The claim: No promises that you'll get a posterior like Pippa's, but weight loss through eating as much as you like of "permitted foods" which are "those eaten by primitive man, hunter-gatherers, proteins and vegetables". In other words it's a high-protein, low-carb, low-fat diet.
What's involved: A personalised programme with a daily online slimming coach. Four phases running over several months.
What it costs: Around €175 for a nine-month stint (there's 20 per cent off at the moment, it would usually be €220).
Extras: Optional supplements and books.
Lasting value for money? If you follow "three simple, concrete, easy but non-negotiable measures" for the rest of your life post-diet, you'll keep the weight off, Dukan claims.
Dieter experience: Elaine Neillis opted not to get into the online coaching so her only expenses are the Dukan diet book (about €20) and the extra cost of buying more meat and fish.
"When I first started it cost me €40-€50 upfront for three days worth of lean protein foods like fish, poultry and lean steak and eggs," she said. "I like this diet because you eat real food, not protein shakes -- and you can eat as much as you want, as long as you stick to permitted foods."
She lost well over a stone in seven weeks, even managing to resist roast potatoes and other Christmas temptations.
Costs as much as: Two months of petrol money.
One of the oldest players in the weight loss game.
The claim: Eat the foods you love -- and still lose weight.
What's involved: Unlike many other programmes no food is verboten. You attend weekly weigh-ins, you have a "points" allowance, where every type of food is worth a certain number of points. Exercise can be deducted from your daily points. You can eat whatever you like as long as it's within your points allowance.
What it costs: €20 to join then €10 a week. An eight-week course costs €90.
Extras: A plethora of Weight Watchers books, gadgets and snacks and meals that would hike up your outlay. For instance, the weighing scales costs €50.
Lasting value for money? It's a tenner a week to continue on if you feel you can't keep the weight down on your own.
The experience: "I signed up at the end of May weighing a hefty 12-and-a-half stone," says Rachel Hargreaves. "I've lost two stone in seven months. So it's cost me €280 to do it, but I'm delighted, it's well worth it. I like that I can eat and drink what I want instead of surviving on crazy protein drinks."
Costs as much as: The new household charge.
Tony Ferguson Diet
The latest of the 'liquid diet' type programmes to enter the market. Like Lipotrim and Slimfast, it's a favourite with brides who want to shrink to fit a little white dress -- and quickly.
The claim: "Maintain a healthy new weight for life."
What's involved: Swapping two meals each day for branded low GI soups, shakes, bars and desserts then having one "normal" meal, consuming around 1,200-1,400 calories a day. Access to advice, recipes, menu plans and charts for recording weight loss.
What it costs: It's €18 to join then about €175 a month for your supply of diet soups, shakes and desserts.
Lasting value for money? When you sign up online you receive 'lifetime membership' of the programme that includes 24-hour access to a Tony Ferguson adviser.
Dieter experience: "This is a great short-term fat blitz," says our dieter Louise (who prefers her real name not to be used).
"I wanted to go on a three-month weight loss blitz to get my wedding ready -- and this was the perfect plan for that. I lost eight pounds in the first two weeks alone. But at nearly €200 a month you would expect dramatic results. I lost a stone-and-a-half in total -- but I put back on half-a-stone on my honeymoon."
Costs as much as: Two months' supply would buy a fortnight's luxury holiday in the Algarve.
Sunday Indo Business