First, check out the author's credentials. "A registered dietitian has the widest background in nutritional counseling," says Milton Stokes, RD, a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. If the author isn't an RD, look for an MPH (master of public health), a PhD in nutrition or a related field, or an MD. Next, read the introduction. "If it promises that you will 'effortlessly' lose more than two pounds a week, it's a definite red flag," says Elizabeth Somer, RD, author of 10 Habits That Mess Up a Woman's Diet (McGraw-Hill, 2006). Another bad sign: when an author states that all the diet advice you've gotten before is untrue. "If it goes against everything you know to be fact, don't believe it," says Somer.