The diet and fitness category has become more competitive than ever, with PW receiving submissions for this feature from 34 publishers, a number that topped even the most robust recent years. The vast majority of titles are about dieting, making for a crowded field of ways to slim down.

According to Random House executive editor Marnie Cochran, “Today’s customers are becoming more savvy, which is forcing us to be better publishers and give them a complete plan.” Given the abundance of social media and e-mail, she says it’s easier these days to gather direct feedback—which means constantly trying to improve new offerings. “For example, we’re including shopping lists now. Accompaniments are important to ease the process for consumers.”

Cochran cites a major new title coming from consumer advocate and bestselling author Dave Zinczenko: Eat It to Beat It! Banish Belly Fat—and Take Back Your Health—While Eating the Brand-Name Foods You Love! (Zinc Ink, Dec.). Given his media exposure and bestseller status, Zinczenko’s latest will certainly appeal to the demanding reader. The book unpacks the latest food marketing tricks to help guide consumers to the best choices. On the other end of the spectrum, the publisher offers Eat-Clean Diet author Tosca Reno and Billie Fitzpatrick’s The Start Here Diet: Three Simple Steps That Helped Me Transition from Fat to Slim… for Life (Ballantine, Dec.) aimed at helping the beginning dieter who might feel overwhelmed by more advanced plans.

As customers become more sophisticated about choosing diets, publishers agree that a smarter selection of titles has naturally led to more weight-loss and maintenance strategies based in science and tied to long-term health. According to John Duff, publisher at Penguin’s Perigee Books, HPBooks and Prentice Hall Press, “We’re looking mainly at the titles that have a strong psychological component rather than a particular type of diet.” Coming next month from Perigee is Lauren Slayton’s The Little Book of Thin, which is designed to help readers navigate a sea of bad diet advice and plan better, and It’s Not About the Broccoli by Dina Rose (Jan.), which focuses on building better behavioral habits in kids to encourage healthier eating.

Among the many forthcoming titles that encourage healthy, long-term change are The Life Plan Diet: The Essential Steps to Achieving Great Health and a Leaner, Stronger, and Sexier Body by Dr. Jeffry S. Life (Atria, Mar.) and The Protein Boost Diet: Improve Your Hormone Efficiency for a Fast Metabolism and Weight Loss by Dr. Ridha Arem (Atria, Jan.). The latest entry from blogger and YouTube star Sarah Dussault, Sarah Fit: Get Skinny Again! (Page Street Publishing, Dec.), is aimed at those who tend to be thin but who may not have learned the basics of healthy diet and exercise and want to shed new, unwanted bulk. Meanwhile, HarperOne hopes to add to its run of popular sellers—from authors such as Dr. Alejandro Junger and Sue Hitzman—with #1 New York Times bestseller Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s The End of Dieting (Mar.), which delves into the latest science and outlines a new program. (According to Nielsen BookScan, three of Fuhrman’s recent health/diet top sellers from Harper—Eat to Live Cookbook, Super Immunity, and The End of Diabetes—have racked up an impressive sales total of 289,000 copies.)

Harlequin’s Nonfiction imprint is also hoping to continue the successful diet and fitness presence it has built in its first five years with titles such as 2013’s bestselling The Virgin Diet by J.J. Virgin (Nielsen’s 2012 sales total: 149,000). Coming in 2014 are The New Lean for Life by Cynthia Stamper Graff and Dr. Reginald Allouche (Jan.), blending a California program with discoveries by French nutritionist Allouche, and The Diabetes Breakthrough by Dr. Osama Hamdy and Sheri Colberg (Feb.), published in conjunction with Harvard Health Publications and Boston’s Joslin Diabetes Center.

Says Harlequin Nonfiction editorial director Deborah Brody, “We continue to look for titles that focus on new and evidence-based research. Books on wellness provide an affordable way to stay healthy and out of the doctor’s office, and we think the category is getting stronger accordingly.”

Disease prevention is well represented in the current crop of diet titles. This month, New Harbinger in Oakland, Calif., releases The Prediabetes Detox: A Whole-Body Program to Balance Your Blood Sugar, Increase Energy, and Reduce Sugar Cravings by Sarah Cimperman and Walter Crinnion. Coming in January, Barron’s Educational Series is adding Quick Check Food Guide for Heart Health by Linda McDonald, following the success of its Quick Check Guide to Gluten-Free Foods, aimed not just at patients with existing heart conditions, but at those looking to adopt a preventive diet. And in February, Hachette’s Center Street imprint will publish The 30-Day Heart Tune-Up: A Breakthrough Medical Plan to Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease by Dr. Steven Masley, president of the Masley Optimal Health Center, a St. Petersburg, Fla., facility that seeks to prevent heart failure and strokes.

Octopus Publishing’s Hamlyn imprint will kick off a new Eat Yourself... series in January, distributed by Hachette, which provides guidance for consumers on how to combat emotional and/or mood difficulties with the right foods. The series launches with four titles by Gill Paul and Karen Sullivan that will retail at $9.99: Eat Yourself Thin … Happy, … Calm, and … Energy. According to Octopus Publishing Group director Denise Bates, “Overall, we’re seeing an interest in healthy eating move from the premium sector to the mass market, so the format and price point of this series are very much geared toward that audience.” Seal Press, too, is expanding its presence in this booming category, following the success of its May 2013 breakout book, Yogalosophy: 28 Days to the Ultimate Mind-Body Makeover by Mandy Ingber. Seal plans to promote the New York Times bestseller anew this January, as it launches an app based on the book (which has already had two e-book editions, with one offering extra video content for tablet users). The publisher also expects to create an app for its upcoming The 3-Day Reset: Restore Your Cravings for Healthy Foods in Three Easy, Empowering Days by Pooja Mottl (May).

“The days of selling the perfect body, the perfect diet, the perfect food plan, perfect skin are over—at least for now,” says Krista Lyons, Seal Press publisher. “Consumers want the content to meet them where they are, at their level, in their imperfect world, because that’s what’s real.”

Today’s consumer is undeniably savvier than were previous consumers, but publishers still draw on a number of diet trends and carefully craft hooks—from genetics to swimsuit season to Paleo—to try to attract the consumer eye in the marketplace. Timing can play a factor as well.

Da Capo senior publicity director Lissa Warren says the publisher is “ever mindful of New Year’s resolutions to lose weight and eat healthy,” but that this year it will spread out some of its diet books to less crowded seasons since “people care about weight loss at other times of the year, too.” The publisher’s forthcoming titles also showcase several trends. A lead July hardcover title, The Microbiome Diet: The Scientifically Proven Way to Restore Your Gut Health and Achieve Permanent Weight-Loss by Dr. Raphael Kellman, will be one of the first books out to tackle the hot topic of adjusting the microbiome, or flora, in our stomachs to achieve weight loss. Weekend Wonder Detox: Quick Cleanses to Strengthen Your Body and Enhance Your Beauty by Michelle Schoffro Cook (Apr.) and Skinny Juices: 101 Juice Recipes for Detox and Weight Loss by Danielle Omar (June) focus on the market’s continuing interest in juicing and detoxes.

“Consumers are also looking for miracle ingredients to boost their wellness,” says Megan Newman, editorial director of Penguin’s Avery and Gotham Books. She points to Avery’s The Coconut Oil Miracle by Bruce Fife, which will get an updated edition, its fifth, in December. A backlist staple for years, Newman notes that the book is selling more copies now than it did when originally published in 2004. (Its sales that year, reports BookScan, totaled a hefty 83,190 copies.) Not surprisingly, the right title can sum up the entire appeal for a diet book, as with Hearst Books’ two December offerings leveraging its magazine ties: The Cosmo Bikini Diet by Holly C. Corbett and the editors of Cosmopolitan, and 7 Years Younger: The Anti-Aging Breakthrough Diet—Lose 20 Pounds (or More!) by the editors of Good Housekeeping. Rodale, too, is able to pull from its magazine expertise, such as with its forthcoming The Sugar Smart Diet: Stop Cravings and Lose Weight While Still Enjoying the Sweets You Love! by Anne Alexander, editorial director of Prevention magazine (Dec.). “At Rodale, our brands have a regular dialogue with their readers,” says Jennifer Levesque, trade books editorial director. “Recently Prevention realized that sugar was a huge concern for many, but there was also a lot of confusion around the issue.”

So Alexander assembled a team of experts to research the topic and come up with a clarifying plan for consumers. This month’s issue of Prevention includes an editorial letter focusing on the topic, and Levesque says Rodale Books and the magazine are partnering to roll out a major promotional campaign over the next few months.

As hooks go, time also makes a frequent appearance in the design of many diets—be it the short time projected for results or the benefits that will last years. Examples of this strategy can range from the more philosophical, such as A Short Guide to a Long Life by Dr. David Agus (Simon & Schuster, Jan.), to the more literal, such as The 17 Day Diet Breakthrough Edition by Dr. Mike Moreno (Simon & Schuster, Dec.). Hyperion’s The Every Other Day Diet: The Diet That Lets You Eat All You Want (Half the Time) and Keep the Weight Off by Krista Varady and Bill Gottlieb (Dec.) and Chris Powell’s Choose to Lose: The 7-Day Carb Cycle Solution, in paper for the first time in December, make the timing of their diet plans clear from the get-go.

And Mary Norris, editorial director of Globe Pequot’s Skirt! books line, calls attention to a forthcoming title centering on that time of the month. “Coming this season,” she says, “we empower women to use their cycle to their advantage with The 28 Days Lighter Diet: Your Monthly Plan to Lose Weight, End PMS, and Achieve Physical and Emotional Wellness by Ellen Barrett and Kate Hanley (Jan.).

St. Martin’s contributes two new high-profile entries to the category. The first, due out December 31 (just in time for New Year’s resolutions), is a follow-up by Dr. Ian Smith to his #1 New York Times bestselling Shred. In the new book, Super Shred, Smith focuses anew on those who need a short-term fix to lose pounds for a vacation, date, or similar event. The publisher is also waxing enthusiastic about The Hungry Girl Diet from Lisa Lillien (Mar.), which outlines a four-week jump-start plan and is designed to appeal to the devoted fan base for the author’s Hungry Girl cookbooks, Web site, and e-newsletter.

On the Paleo and low-carb front, author Esther Blum announces that Cavewomen Don’t Get Fat: The Paleo Chic Diet for Rapid Results (Gallery, Dec.), outlining a three-phase plan that focuses on protein. And publisher Duncan Baird presents a low-carb book with a twist: The Serotonin Revolution by Lowri Turner (Apr.), a diet plan that seeks to make sure “happy” hormones aren’t negatively impacted. Sales and publicity v-p John Tintera reports fortuitous timing since “Kim Kardashian just declared that she lost her baby fat using Atkins.” That fact should be encouraging for Simon & Schuster’s Touchstone imprint’s forthcoming New Atkins Made Easy by Colette Heimowitz (Dec.) as well.

With the above weighing down the store shelves, it’s no surprise to see many publishers continuing to promote new titles related to these topics. Says Ten Speed Press’s Daniel Wikey, online community coordinator and editorial assistant, “the New York Times recently likened the current juicing craze to the dot-com boom of the 1990s.” The publisher’s The Juice Cleanse Reset Diet: 7 Days to Transform Your Body for Increased Energy, Glowing Skin, and a Slimmer Waistline by Lori Kenyon Farley and Marra St. Clair (Dec.) targets revitalization of both mental and physical health by getting free of toxins. New titles from a variety of publishers dealing with these topics include The Juice Generation: 100 Recipes for Fresh Juices and Superfood Smoothies by Eric Helms with Amely Greeven (S&S/Touchstone, Jan.); Green Smoothie Cleanse by Lisa Sussman and The Miracle Kidney Cleanse by Lauren Felts (Ulysses, Dec.); Forever Beautiful: The Age-Defying Detox Plan by Natalia Rose (Globe Pequot/Skirt!, Jan.); and The Detox Prescription: Supercharge Your Health, Strip Away Pounds, and Eliminate the Toxins Within by Dr. Woodson Merrell and Mary Beth Augustine (Rodale, Dec.). “People are focusing more and more on what they put in their bodies, so we will continue to look at diets that improve specific conditions and overall health,” explains Ulysses Press v-p Bryce Willett. “It’s a trend we don’t see slowing down anytime soon."

Putting the Fit in Fitness

The fitness side of the category may be less crowded than the diet side, but that only underlines the difficulty of having a breakout title. “Fitness is tougher,” says Marnie Cochran at Random House. “It’s harder to follow a fitness program from a book.” Still, publishers have some, er, strong contenders this season, including Random’s own Sleekify: The Supercharged No-Weights Workout to Sculpt and Tighten Your Body in 28 Days, by former boxer and Victoria’s Secret model trainer Michael Olajide Jr. (Zinc Ink, Dec.).

One of the most unusual books on the way is Holt’s What Makes Olga Run? The Mystery of the 90-Something Track Star and What She Can Teach Us About Living Longer, Happier Lives by Bruce Grierson (Feb.). The title uses Olga Kotelko, a Canadian track star who holds 23 world records and remains an active competitor in javelin, shot put, and the 100-meter dash (as well as spending time painting and with her family), as a case study for many scientific findings about health and longevity. According to Holt editor-in-chief Gillian Blake, “What makes this book different is Olga herself, a real-life inspiration to all, whose approach to health and fitness was devised by instinct alone, yet turns out to be uncannily aligned with the latest research on healthy aging.”

Another book focused on a major personality is actor Joe Manganiello’s Evolution, coming in December from Gallery Books. With a muscled physique familiar to his many fans—particularly those who tune in to see him as True Blood’s frequently shirtless werewolf, Alcide—Manganiello now shares his own program of light weights, intense cardio, and a high-protein diet, as well as his personal story. (The book features an introduction by Arnold Schwarzenegger.) Says Gallery senior editor Jeremie Ruby-Strauss, “Manganiello’s book stands on the shoulders of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s New Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding, updating it with what we’ve learned from high-intensity functional exercise and a Paleo-style diet program.”

Targeting the same type of exercise enthusiast is Avery’s Every Day Is Game Day: The Proven System of Elite Performance to Win All Day, Every Day by Mark Verstegen and Pete Williams (Jan.). Author previously of Core Performance, Verstegen is a prominent sports trainer across a variety of sports and has also worked with U.S. Special Operations Forces personnel.

At Avery and Gotham Books, editorial director Megan Newman reports, “With the popularity of Crossfit, Tough Mudder, and the like, we’ve found the fitness fanatics are really looking to push the envelope and train like top champions.”

Endurance sports book publisher VeloPress has Quick Strength for Runners by Jeff Horowitz (Dec.) on the way, as well as Racing Weight Cookbook: Lean, Light Recipes for Athletes by Matt Fitzgerald and Georgie Fear, designed to build on the bestselling weight-loss program Racing Weight (which has sold 70,000 copies sold to date).

And Harper Wave has a new title out in February from P90X creator Tony Horton, The Big Picture: 11 Laws That Will Change Your Life. His first non-workout book, it will still offer essential principles to guide exercise, slim down, and be healthy.

But it’s not all about high-intensity exercise. Crown’s Harmony imprint has Sadie Nardini’s The 21-Day Yoga Body this month. Midpoint Trade’s Heartbreak Yoga by Amy Dewhurst, published in February 2103, provides a blend of memoir and instruction on how to develop a yoga practice. And Skyhorse offers an all-encompassing exercise and dietary guide with its Gluten Free Revolution: A Balanced Guide to a Gluten-Free Lifestyle Through Healthy Recipes, Green Smoothies, Yoga, Pilates, and Easy Desserts by Caroline Shannon-Karasik (Jan.).

Lastly, for anyone looking for a convincing argument about the benefits of regular exercise, there’s The Exercise Cure: A Doctor’s All-Natural, No-Pill Prescription for Better Health and Longer Life by sports medicine physician Dr. Jordan Metzl (Rodale, Dec.). With praise from Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Natalie Morales already, this guide may turn out to be just what the doctor(s) ordered.

Some Light Cooking

While recipes are included in most diet and fitness titles these days, cookbooks (or tomes that mix in other content but include plenty of recipes) are an ever-growing staple of the category. “We’ve seen that when a diet truly works and becomes part of people’s lives, diet cookbooks are a key next-step toward allowing people to maintain the weight and their enthusiasm for their new lifestyle,” says Jennifer Levesque, editorial director of trade books for Rodale. Whether such books come with a popular diet brand or present healthy meal plans à la carte, we rounded up a few notable forthcoming titles.


The Oh She Glows Cookbook by Angela Liddon (Mar., paperback). More than 100 recipes from the creator of the popular blog

Benbella Books

Better than Vegan: 101 Low-Fat, Plant-Based Recipes That Helped Me Lose Over 200 Pounds by Del Sroufe (Dec., paperback). More recipes from the chef and bestselling author of Forks Over Knives—The Cookbook.

Happy Herbivore Light & Lean by Lindsay Nixon (Dec., paperback). The blogger behind the Happy Herbivore and related cookbooks (more than 150,000 copies sold) offers plant-based meals to help lose weight.


The Fast Metabolism Diet Cookbook by Haylie Pomroy (Dec., hardcover). More than 200 recipes to go along with the diet.

Da Capo

The Science of Skinny Cookbook: 100 Healthy Recipes to Help You Stop Dieting—and Eat for Life! by Dee McCaffrey (Jan., paperback). Cofounder of Processed-Free America focuses on preparing unprocessed whole foods for the family.

Demos Health

Gluten-Free, Hassle Free, 2nd Edition by Marlisa Brown (Dec., paperback). This new edition of dietician and chef’s practical guide to getting gluten out of the kitchen.

Globe Pequot

The Nutrition Twins’ Veggie Cure by Tammy L. Shames and Lyssie Lakatos (Jan., paperback). Registered dietician nutritionists known as the Nutrition Twins offer 100 recipes.


Schedule Me Skinny by Sarah-Jane Bedwell (Dec., paperback). A registered dietitian provides 14-day meal plans, shopping lists, and tips to melt away pounds.

Rodale Books

The South Beach Diet Gluten Solution Cookbook by Dr. Arthur Agatston (Nov., hardcover). This accompaniment to The South Beach Diet Gluten Solution, featuring 175 recipes.

Wheat Belly 30 Minute (or Less!) Cookbook by Dr. William Davis (Dec., hardcover). Latest addition to the Wheat Belly diet offerings, featuring fast wheat-free recipes.

Running Press

Eat What You Love—Everyday! 200 All-New, Great-Tasting Recipes Low in Sugar, Fat, and Calories by Marlene Koch (Apr., hardcover). The third book in the bestselling Eat What You Love series offers 200 new recipes.

Skyhorse Publishing

Chia Seed Remedies: Discover the Natural Way to Lose Weight, Fight Depression, Live Longer and More by MySeeds Chia Test Kitchen (Feb., paperback). Recipes using these healthy seeds in place of butter and oil, among other techniques.

Delicious Probiotic Drinks: 75 Recipes for Kombucha, Kefir, Ginger Beer, and Other Naturally Fermented Drinks by Julia Mueller (Feb., hardcover). Step-by-step directions to brewing up a variety of healthy drinks.


A Smart Girl’s Guide to Going Vegetarian by Rachel Meltzer Warren (Jan., paperback). Aimed at teens who want to try a vegetarian diet; offers tips and 40 recipes.