Every few years, a new weight loss craze sweeps the nation (or world). This is it, the answer you’ve been waiting for, the thing that will finally help you shed those unwanted pounds. And even better, it’s not miserable at all! You won’t feel hungry and you won’t hate the food.

Sound familiar? If you’ve heard of the ketogenic diet, you’re probably nodding your head. Lately it’s all the rage in the weight loss world, and you might be thinking of trying it. But you also might be wondering if it’s safe.

The ketogenic diet is high in fat, contains moderate amouns of protein, and is low in carbohydrates. You might be worried about the fat content, because you’ve been told all your life that fat is bad. Or, you might be wondering why the carbohydrate content is so low, considering the Food Pyramid you learned back in grade school was so heavily focused on common carb sources like breads and pasta. It goes against everything you know, and yet people are exclaiming over how great the diet works.

The diet is designed to force your body into a state of ketosis, or fat burning. At the same time, it curbs hunger so that you can stick with it. As everyone knows, dieting can be difficult due to hunger and cravings for “bad” foods. Supposedly, you don’t suffer much of that on the ketogenic diet.

Here’s the deal with the ketogenic diet: Yes, it works for most people, as far as weight loss goes. But it also depletes carbohydrate stores in muscles and the liver. If you have liver disease or cancer, issues with fat absorption, pancreatitis, gall bladder removal or obstruction, or certain metabolic disorders, the ketogenic diet could be dangerous for you. This is also true of anyone taking drugs (such as steroids) that might elevate blood glucose levels.

On the other hand, the ketogenic diet might be good for those suffering Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes. And as long as you don’t have medical problems that prevent you from undergoing the ketogenic diet, the benefits of weight loss should always be stacked against the cost of remaining overweight.

The bottom line? The ketogenic diet is wrong for certain people. And it could be dangerous for anyone if you attempt it without the guidance of a physician or nutritionist. But since the health benefits of weight loss are often so great, in most cases it’s better to follow a diet to which you can commit long-term. That might include the ketogenic diet, but check with your doctor to be sure it’s safe for you.