Green Faces (or How to Hack Your Metabolism)

11 Sep 2012

WARNING: Don’t try this at home. This not medical advice. In fact it’s probably bad for you. Don’t do this, or any other random diet idea you find on the Internet without consulting experts. It’s 2021 now, and 9 years ago was a very different time for me. I would not do this again.

On August 21, while having dinner at a local restaurant, a conversation about health and diet erupted between me and my coworkers. I mentioned a desire to lose some unecessary weight, and some others mentioned similar goals. One of us suggested a diet called Green Faces. In its simplest and strictest form, there are 3 possible things you are allowed to consume on this crazy diet:

No bread, no pasta. Not even dairy. Just meat, vegetables and water. While it’s extremely restrictive, the point of keeping it to just a few consumable things is to make it very easy to follow. There isn’t much confusion as to whether things fall into one of these three categories.

I’ve generally dismissed things like Atkins and paleo diets as gimmicks, but at this point I was ready to try something and stick with it, since my weight was getting too far outside of what I’d call an acceptable range. I guess being an especially lazy programmer has had something to do with that.

Three of us decided we’d give this a try. We set our own individual goals and slight variations on this diet (for example, allowing all vegetables instead of just green ones), and agreed to keep going, if possible, until October 1.

I use a Fitbit Aria scale to track my weight over time, which made it rather easy to see how well this was working:

19 lbs since Aug 22

I’ve dropped 19 lbs in just under three weeks! This is a ridiculous loss of weight. It might even be unhealthy, I’m not really sure. I can definitely tell you about some side effects of removing most of the carbs from your diet.

I get tired a lot quicker. My productivity at work seems to be normal, but I often require bigger meals and more coffee just to stay alert while writing code. I’m also sleeping an extra hour or so each night. I’ve become a bit more irritable. At the same time, I’m pretty conscious of this, so it’s relatively easy to mitigate. I think I tend to turn a lot of carbs into heat, because I’ve felt a lot colder since starting. The worst side effect by far is the headaches. From what I’m told, not everyone who tries Green Faces or low-carb diets gets these, but it can happen. The first week was the worst, but they’re much rarer now.

In the end, I think this is pretty unsustainable. I just don’t have the same kind of energy level I’m used to. I’ll definitely try to remove a lot of carbs from my diet, but this sort of extreme can’t be too healthy for longer stretches. I’m not a doctor, but if you’re trying to lose some extra fat or just get down to a healthy weight, this might be the kind of thing you should try, but only for a reasonably short time.

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