You can argue from sun-up until sundown over the merits of different diets and weight loss plans.

However, one cold hard fact which can't be disputed is that every diet takes its own bite out of your wallet; if you're money conscious as well as health conscious, this guide's for you.

We countdown the top UK diets 2014 by how much they cost...

10) Paleo Diet

Also known as the "Caveman Diet" the Paleo Diet is a low-carb, high-protein diet which consists only of foodstuffs that can be hunted, fished and foraged.

Good for/bad for:

The Paleo Diet cuts out all farmed, refined and processed foods (which our bodies find hard to deal with) to reflect how our ancestors used to eat once upon a time.

However, your menu will be fresh-food intensive so you'd better like meat, seafood, eggs, nuts, seeds, fruit, vegetables, herbs and spices. It can be expensive due to your dependence on meat, which also means it's hard to balance nutritionally and not one for vegetarians.

The cost:

Chicken cutlets with olives and tomatoes for 2.60 per meal.

Extrapolated over a full year the Paleo Diet meal described above would clock in at approx. 1,893 - all that expensive protein!

9) Atkins Diet

A low-carb, high protein diet that's not as strict as the Dukan Diet and allows unlimited fat and some vegetables too (peppers, cucumber, iceberg lettuce, etc).

Good for/bad for:

The lack of carbs means you can lose weight quickly and with red meat, butter, cream, cheese and mayonnaise for diet mainstays it's a particularly attractive (if limited) menu.

However, lots of saturated fats can increase your risk of heart disease and the lack of fruit, veg and dairy may affect your bone and kidney health long term. Atkins Diet is NOT nutritionally balanced and you could suffer from tiredness, insomnia and constipation.

The cost:

Bacon cheeseburgers (no buns) with avocado salad for 2.55 per meal (ish).

A year's worth of the tasty sounding meal above gives you an awful lot of bang (meat) for your buck, but it'll set you back approaching 1,856.

8) 5:2 Diet

Also known as the "2 Day Diet", you eat normally for five days per week and fast on the other two days, consuming just 500-600 calories.

Good for/bad for:

Controlling your diet for just two days per week is meant to be far easier than doing so for all seven, and still limits your calorie intake (if you don't overeat on non-fast days).

However, skipping meals can leave you dizzy and irritable and across the full week you'll still need sufficient nutrition, hydration and vitamins. It's unsafe to delay or skip meals if you are pregnant or you've had or are prone to eating disorders/diabetes.

The cost:

On a normal day you might choose Middle Eastern Lamb for c. 2.50, while a typical fasting day meal might be a single tomato & anchovy flatbread, costing 1.55ish.

You're eating normally 10 x a week and eating a typical fasting day meal 4 x a week, which works out at nearly 1,622 (or thereabouts).

7) WeightWatchers Diet

A calorie-control diet whereby you're given a ProPoints allowance to spend on food and drink. Protein, carbs, fat and fibre all 'cost' while fruit and vegetables are 'free'.

Good for/bad for:

No foods are banned, you'll get a weekly exercise plan and there are also weekly meetings to provide support and motivation. You can even save up ProPoints to spend on treats.

However, the WeightWatchers points system can be as complex and time consuming as actually counting calories so you might need its meetings for motivation. The paid subscription only buys you moral support - you'll still need to buy groceries yourself.

The cost:

Cod and feta ratatouille (costs 9 ProPoints / 1.95 ingredients).

Taking the above as your typical meal, extrapolating it across a full year and adding in subscription prices - that's an annual cost of 1,593.

6) Slimming World Diet

Swapping high-fat foods for low-fat foods which you can eat in unlimited amounts; these 'Free Foods' include fruit, vegetables, pasta, potatoes, rice, lean meat, fish and eggs.

Good for/bad for:

There's no boring calorie counting involved and you're still allowed the occasional treat, plus you can get support from fellow Slimming World slimmers at weekly group meetings.

However, the group sessions and the actual diet plan focus on moral support rather than how to manage your diet once off the plan. This means you might well struggle to keep off whatever weight you manage to lose.

The cost:

Meatballs / steak / chicken in a spicy arrabiata sauce for about 1.80.

Add a 4.95 weekly subscription (or 20/month online only) to the representative meal and you'll be looking at approx. 1,550 annually.

5) Cambridge Diet

You'll replace meals with a range of nutritionally balanced replacements including diet bars, soups, porridges and diet shakes - drastically cutting your calorie intake.

Good for/bad for:

The very low calorie count means your weight loss can be dramatic, and your diet planning and exercise is supported all the way by a Cambridge adviser.

However, the Cambridge Diet is only a quick fix at best, and nigh on impossible to stick to long term. It nails all the usual symptoms of a hardcore diet (tiredness, nausea and insomnia) while giving up meals for a joyless snack bar can feel socially isolating.

The cost:

Unappealing mix of shakes, bars, 'fibre' and ready meals for approx. 2.10 per meal.

Add in Cambridge Weight Plan adviser fees and you're looking at 44.10 per week, give or take, and around 1,529 per year.

4) Slim-Fast Diet

Aimed at people with a Body Mass Index over 25, Slim-Fast is a meal replacement plan based around 3 x snacks per day, 2 x diet shakes or bars per day and 1 x meal per day.

Good for/bad for:

Slim-Fast's own-brand meal replacements, extensive snack list and featured recipes make the decisions for you so you can forget calorie counting or portion control.

However, you won't be educated about actually changing your eating habits or diet to keep weight off for the long term. Five portions of fruit & veg per day might be difficult, and Slim-Fast meal replacement products are love/hate in a Marmite-y kind of way.

The cost:

A solitary Slim-Fast milkshake followed by a snack bar for 2 give or take.

Look out for multibuys to cut down your spend, but you're buying branded items so you'll pay something like 1,456 per year for snacks alone!

3) Pescetarian Diet

You avoid all meat and meat-related products, much like a vegetarian, but allow fish and seafood in your diet and may choose to eat eggs / dairy too.

Good for/bad for:

Pescetarianism puts the focus on lots of healthy fruit and vegetables and naturally limits your fatty foods, much like a vegetarian diet, but it's often more varied and more exciting.

However, you may need to be conscientious about your diet to make sure you get enough iron (think dark, leafy greens and beans/soy products/dried fruit) and vitamin B-12, particularly if your diet only rarely includes fish products.

The cost:

Hearty & filling tuna lasagne for around 1.80 per meal.

One full year as a pescetarian might cost you in the region of 1,310, plus or minus, based on the meal suggestion above.

2) Alkaline Diet

Cut out lots of acid-producing foods such as meat, wheat/grains, dairy, caffeine, alcohol and processed foods because your body turns acids into fats.

Good for/bad for:

You'll eat more fruit and veg, nuts, seeds and legumes which naturally replaces the less healthy processed foods in your diet; hence, weight loss.

However, given a balanced diet your body should regulate its own acid levels anyway. Finding out what you can and can't eat is time consuming, and finding the right balance in your Alkaline Diet from those is painstaking work.

The cost:

Butternut squash risotto with goat's cheese and parsley for 1.75 per meal.

Many Alkaline Diet meal plans are essentially vegetarian anyway, meaning similar meals taken across a full year would cost you a low 1,274 annually.

1) Vegetarian Diet

A vegetarian diet plan completely avoids meat and fish, instead focussing on plenty of fruits and vegetables supplemented by starchy foods.

Good for/bad for:

As you might expect, a balanced vegetarian diet will be pretty good at getting you your 5 a day of fruit and vegetables. It's also a naturally low-fat and low-calorie diet for weight loss.

Contrary to popular myths, it's pretty easy to eat enough protein and calcium too.

However, if you become a vegetarian you'll need to plan your diet carefully and make sure you vary what you eat to get all of the nutrients you need. Iron, vitamin B-12 and omega-3 fatty acids are particular concerns.

The cost:

Greek vegetable & halloumi kebabs (Jamie Oliver!) for just 1.40ish per meal.

Spend 12 months eating comparable meals for lunch and dinner for a grocery bill in and around 1,019 per year!

Just missing the cut:

South Beach Diet

The aim is to eat low-GI foods (stands for glycaemic index) which release their energy slower, meaning you feel fuller for longer - controlling your appetite.

Good for/bad for:

There's no calorie-counting or restrictions on portion size, and no major food groups are eliminated so after stage 1 you'll eat plenty fruit, veg and low-GI carbs (think whole wheat pasta, brown rice, wholemeal bread).

However, not all of your initial weight loss will be from body fat and the water and carbs you'll lose need to be replaced. The dietary restrictions in the initial stage are draconian and you'll miss out on some important vitamins, minerals and fibre.

The cost:

Grilled chicken breast with vegetable skewers for 2.75/meal, give or take.

Assuming you ate 728 comparable (non-breakfast) meals over the course of a year, you'd end up with a 2,002ish annual spend.

Just missing the cut...

Dukan Diet

The Dukan Diet is a strict low-carbohydrate, high-protein diet that focuses heavily on lean meat (chicken and turkey), eggs and fish.

Good for/bad for:

There's no need for weighing food and calorie-counting under the Dukan Diet, which is a big plus for some, and the lack of carbs will help you lose weight quickly (up to 2lb per week).

However, there's not much variety during the early stages and fruit, veg and carbs are only gradually reintroduced. Dukan Diet can lead to dizziness, insomnia and nausea; and you'll need a vitamin supplement and a fibre top-up to balance it nutritionally.

The cost:

Breadless Cajun turkey burgers served with a side dish, that's +/- 2.60 per meal.

Lunch and dinner, 7 days per week and 52 weeks per year; using the above Dukan meal as a benchmark you're looking at around 1,893 annually.


Meal prices were calculated by Googling a 'suggested dish' for each diet, choosing the tastiest-looking and then using mysupermarket price comparison for ingredients. Prices reflect a single portion and 'rounding' was used liberally (to the nearest 5p).

Yearly prices are very much assumptive maths based on a comparably priced meal eaten 14 x per week, 52 weeks per year (e.g. 728 meals excluding breakfasts). Where applicable we have factored in membership fees.

Hence the calculations can be used as a guide-only for annual diet prices relative to the other diets, not as a guarantee for how much you'll spend.

You should never begin any of the diets listed above (indeed, any diet) without first consulting your GP and doing a bit of research.

Despite the many and varied diets now on the market, eating a balanced diet and exercising regularly is still a great way to lose weight and, if you stock up on fresh, filling ingredients, meal plan and forego expensive gym memberships for free workouts then it's likely to be kind to your credit card too!