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Which hardcore diet is for you?

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Atkins? That is so 10 years ago. A new breed of extreme eating plans are everywhere, allowing you to eat all kinds of stuff. Here’s the lowdown on the most notorious.

5:2

What is it? The newest phenomenon. In its most basic form, 5:2 means eating 500 calories two days a week. The rest is up to you.

Famous fans Ben Affleck, Benedict Cumberbatch and, er, Phillip Schofield.

The science Based on a principle called intermittent fasting, the reduced calories on ‘starvation days’ makes your body look elsewhere than food for energy, namely your juicy fat stores.

Pros For most, it’s as simple as a low-calorie breakfast and dinner, with no lunch, twice a week. The rest of the time you can eat whatever you want, and your waistband still loosens.

Cons Tasty, tasty gluttony. The hunger hangover from fast days can lead to crazed, cream-filled calorie binges.

On the menu Miso (so much Miso) is a mainstay for fast days, but nutmeg and cinnamon-spiked porridge is worth embracing. As are 200kcal soups made from roasted broccoli, garlic and stock.

Perfect for The discerning gent who doesn’t mind the odd hunger-induced rage fit in the name of fitting into the suit he bought last year.

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Paleo

What is it? A diet that apes the intake of cavemen, replacing ‘man-made’ food such as dairy, sugar and (most) carbs.

Famous fans Matthew McConaughey, Jason Statham.

The science Our bodies struggle to digest processed foods.

Pros You’ll feel incredible. Fat is vapourised, meaning less chance of heart disease, high blood pressure and cancer.

Cons No burgers. Or chips. Or cake, ice cream, bread, milk or beer.

On the menu Steak, eggs, bolognese with courgette ‘spaghetti’.

Perfect for The man with the willpower to repel tasty carby poison.

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VB6

What is it? Sounds like a car, tastes like a plant. Vegan Before 6 means that by day you’re a dairy-swerving vegan, and a flesh-devouring free spirit by night.

Famous fans New York Times columnist and diet founder Mark Bittman, Bill Clinton.

The science Bittman was told by doctors to choose between surgery, drugs or becoming vegan to rescue his health. He compromised with part-time veganism, lost two stone and reduced his high blood pressure and cholesterol.

Pros It hits the sweet spot between deprivation and reward. Anyone can stick to veg when there’s just a few hours until steak and chips.

Cons Black tea. Dry cornflakes.

On the menu If you don’t fancy scrambled tofu for breakfast, splash almond milk in your porridge.

Perfect for Men who are serial diet flakes.

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Fruitarian

What is it? An extreme strain of veganism. The modified version, 80/10/10, promotes an intake of 80 per cent fruit and vegetables, 10 per cent protein and 10 per cent fat.

Famous fans Steve Jobs, Ashton Kutcher.

The science Evidence has shown that the raw fruit diet of our ancient forebears can cure ailments from acne to asthma.

Pros Great for rapid weight loss, and your five-a-day.

Cons Vitamin B12 supplements are wise. To play Steve Jobs, Ashton Kutcher tried the diet and ended up in hospital.

On the menu Ten banana smoothies for breakfast and a melon for lunch.

Perfect for Sadistic types looking for dramatic results.

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Gluten Free

What is it? A meal plan that can turn you from a wheezing, sluggish nearlyman into a tennis world champion. Providing you have the natural skill. And genetics.

Famous fans Novak Djokovic.

The science By cutting out gluten, dairy and wheat, Serb tennis ace Djoko went from injured, asthmatic, vomiting and mid-match collapses to world No1.

Pros Granted, it’s best for those with intolerances, but ditching fat-laden carbs can make you leaner, sharper and more energised.

Cons If your body’s not averse to gluten and/or you’re no professional athlete, the diet may not make a huge impact.

On the menu Cashew butter, an apple, kale, avocado-smeared crackers, rice pasta and walnutty pesto.

Perfect for The gym-friendly sportsman who always seems to fancy a nap after pizza.

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(Image: Shutterstock)

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