Clear Liquid Diet – How It Works, What To Eat, & Foods To Avoid

Medically Reviewed by Shirley Briars, FdSc, RN
Written by Charushila Biswas, MSc (Biotechnology), ISSA Certified Fitness Nutritionist

A clear liquid diet consists of transparent liquids like water, broth, juice, etc. It is a nutrient-rich diet that is easy on digestion. It is prescribed by doctors for people with gastrointestinal problems, including those who are about to undergo a colonoscopy, or who have just come out of surgery. It should not be used as a weight loss diet. This article gives you all the details about how a clear diet works and its benefits. You will also get a food list and learn what this diet is NOT meant for. Read on to get all the information!

What Is A Clear Liquid Diet?

According to the National Library of Medicine (NIH), a clear liquid diet is a dietary plan that “consists solely of liquids/semi-liquids that are fully clear (1).” It is restricted to liquids that remain transparent at room temperature. The foods can have color but have to be transparent (2). This 3 to 5 day-long diet plan is prescribed by a doctor for people dealing with digestion problems, gastrointestinal tract issues, ulcers, diverticulitis, and before or after gastrointestinal or colon surgeries. We will discuss how a clear liquid diet works in the next section. Read on.

How The Clear Liquid Diet Works

The clear liquid diet is rich in nutrients and electrolytes without being too harsh on digestion. It is meant for those dealing with GI tract inflammation or digestion problems that warrant a surgery or any other medical procedure. The diet provides hydration and the calories required to sustain a normal life for a short period of 3 to 5 days. But can being on a very low-calorie diet like this for a short time be good for you? Yes! Keep reading to find out why.

Why Clear Liquid Diet Is Good For You

The clear liquid diet might be good for you as it is very light on your digestive tract. Diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, IBS/IBD, ulcer, diverticulitis, colonoscopy, or any surgery involving the digestive system calls for giving complete rest to the stomach and the GI tract. You will be on this diet only for a few days before you gradually introduce semi-solid and solid foods to your routine.

Following is the list of foods you can consume if you are asked to be on a clear liquid diet.

Clear Liquid Diet Foods List

Foods allowed in a clear liquid diet are (1):

  •  Water
  •  Clear broth
  •  Fruit juices without pulp
  •  Vegetable juices without pulp
  •  Tea
  •  Gelatin
  •  Ice and ice chips
  •  Clear ice popsicle sticks
  •  Carbonated drinks
  •  Black coffee
  •  Sports drinks
  •  Hard candies

The food choices are limited, and depending on your medical condition, your physician or dietitian may alter the above list. You will generally be on this diet for a maximum of 5 days. With that in mind, check out our sample menu plan for a clear liquid diet.

Clear Liquid Diet Sample Menu

Breakfast1 cup tea/coffee
Snack1 cup fruit juice without pulp
Lunch1 cup clear broth
Snack1 cup carbonated drink/gelatin/ice pop
Dinner1 cup clear vegetable or bone broth

Staying on a clear liquid diet is not going to be easy. But remember why your doctor has recommended it.

Here’s the list of foods to avoid when on a clear liquid diet.

Foods To Avoid

  •  Solid food
  • High-fiber foods like vegetables, fruits, and whole grains
  •  Fibrous proteins like meat and fish, eggs, lentils, pulses, soy, and soy products
  •  Dairy products like milk, yogurt (unless your doctor permits), and cheese
  •  Pulpy fruit juice
  •  Spicy food
  •  Fried food
  •  Frozen food
  •  Processed and canned foods
  •  Soft drinks
  •  Alcoholic drinks

You cannot consume any solid or semi-solid foods, whether whole or processed/canned. You also need to keep a few other points in mind.

Other Things To Know

  • Let your dietitian know if you have diabetes. People with diabetes may experience hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) if they go on a very low-calorie diet like the clear liquid diet. You need to consume 200 grams of carbohydrates at regular intervals throughout the day to prevent a sudden drop in your blood sugar levels.
  • Avoid consuming a clear liquid diet with red or purple-colored liquids if you are going for a colonoscopy. Such liquids may hamper the imaging. Ask your doctor about red or purple clear liquids.

The clear liquid diet may be beneficial for treating gut issues; however, it is not recommended for weight loss. Scroll down to understand why.

Why The Clear Liquid Diet Is Not Meant For Weight Loss

Many people who want to lose weight quickly prefer going on a clear liquid diet or a liquid diet to achieve their goals. But a clear liquid diet or any liquid diet is NOT recommended for weight loss. It is low in calories and lacks enough nutrients required for the normal functioning of the body and brain. Also, such a diet is unsustainable. It can cause nausea, mood swings, irritability, and increase hunger pangs. You will not adhere to the diet for long. You may also give in to the hunger and consume more calories. The clear liquid diet is a strict no-no for weight loss unless a licensed nutritionist recommends it to you under their constant supervision.

A clear liquid diet consists of clear liquids such as water, broth, and some juices that are easy to digest. This transparent liquid diet helps you recover from medical procedures and surgery and provides hydration. It is low in calories and easy to follow. Also, it is an ideal diet plan for anyone with GI tract and serious digestive problems. Fruit and vegetable juices without pulp, gelatin, tea, sports drinks, and carbonated drinks are some of the best foods for a clear liquid diet. However, this diet should only be followed upon medical recommendation. Let your dietitian know if you have diabetes or are allergic to specific food sources before starting this diet.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you start a clear liquid diet?

Your doctor will tell you when you can start the clear liquid diet. Consume foods like white rice and noodles as they are low in fiber and easy to digest. You can also consume yogurt if your doctor allows.

How do you feel full on a clear liquid diet?

Consuming clear vegetable and bone broth, fruit juices without pulp, gelatin, carbonated drinks, water, and ice popsicles can make you feel full while you are on the clear liquid diet. But do ask your doctor for a customized meal frequency if you have diabetes or your blood sugar level drops too quickly.

How to survive a clear liquid diet?

A clear liquid diet can be boring. But you can survive it by consuming fruit juices without pulp, broth, ice popsicles, water, sports drinks, carbonated drinks, hard candies, tea, coffee, and gelatin. Do remember that you will be on this diet only for 3 to 5 days. Adhere to it just so you can enjoy good food for the remainder of the year.

What are the clear liquid diet ideas for a colonoscopy?

You can consume Jell-O (gelatin), ice popsicles, water, clear broth, tea, and coffee. Avoid red or purple broths or juices as they may interfere with the imaging.

Key Takeaways

  • On a clear liquid diet, you can only consume liquids that remain transparent at room temperature.
  • This diet is usually prescribed in the recovery phase after surgery and for gastrointestinal problems.
  • Water, clear broth, tea, and juices without pulp are some of the liquids included in this diet.
  • It is generally recommended for a duration of 3 to 5 days.

Sources

Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Read our editorial policy to learn more.

  1. Clear Liquid Diet
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30860735/
  2. Clear Liquid Diet
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK538500/
The following two tabs change content below.

Shirley Briars

(RN, DipION, mBANT, CNHC)
Shirley is a registered nutritionist who specializes in weight loss, hormone balance, and food tolerance. She uses a functional medicine... more

LATEST ARTICLES