What is A Clear Liquid Diet? What To eat And What To Avoid

As the name suggests, it is a diet that is made up of exclusively clear liquids. When on a clear liquid diet, you are not allowed to eat any solid food. Clear liquids digest easily, therefore, there will be no undigested residue left behind in your intestinal tract and you will have a sufficient amount of vitamins and minerals for energy. Consider tea, water, juices without pulp, broth, and plain gelatin as clear liquids but strictly prohibit milk and yogurt in this diet. It is a diet that a doctor prescribes to manage a temporary medical condition.

Why do Doctors Prescribe Clear Liquid Diets? 

This diet is suggested to a person by the doctor for different medical reasons that require no food in your stomach or intestines. The doctor prescribes this diet when the patient needs to take tests or procedures. Its main purpose is to keep the stomach and intestines of the patient at rest. Also, it helps to clean out the body’s intestinal tract. Below are some of the conditions at which a person has to be under a clear liquid diet:

  • Before some surgeries
  • Abdominal pain
  • A diverticulitis clear liquid diet is suggested in case of diverticulitis. 
  • Acute pancreatitis
  • After the surgeries involving the esophagus or digestive system

For a successful surgery and to avoid problems it is very important to follow the pre-procedure or pre-surgery instructions. A clear liquid diet is important for a person who is having surgery that involves anesthesia. This diet will minimize the risk of choking on food or inhaling food into the lungs of the patient. Also, if you are scheduled for an endoscopic procedure then you have to be under a clear liquid diet. It will help the doctor to see more clearly during your tests. 

List of Items in a Clear Liquid Diet

clear liquid diet: watermelon juice

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Here is the proper list of clear liquids that are allowed in a clear liquid diet:

  • Fat-free broth
  • Clear nutritional drinks like Enlive, Ensure Clear
  • Carbonated sodas such as Sprite, Pepsi, root beer, and Coca-Cola
  • Clear soups
  • Coffee without milk or cream
  • Hard candies, for example, lemon drops or peppermint rounds
  • Honey or sugar
  • Juices without pulp, for example, apple, white grape, or white cranberry juices
  • Fruit-flavored beverages, such as fruit punch or lemonade without pulp
  • Popsicles without fruit pulp
  • Hard candies
  • Sports drinks for example Gatorade, Powerade, Vitamin Water
  • Strained tomato or vegetable juice
  • Tea without milk or cream
  • Pedialyte (electrolyte drinks for sick children)
  • Plain, carbonated, or flavored water

You are not allowed to have anything else other than these liquids listed above. Also, in special cases, doctors can alter the list according to your medical conditions.

What Foods and Beverages to Avoid on a Clear Liquid Diet?

clear liquid diet

Source: healthjade.com

The foods and beverages that are not acceptable for a person that has to follow a clear liquid diet are written below:

  • Milk and yogurt
  • Tomato and vegetable juices (unstrained)
  • Fruit juice with pulp
  • Fruit nectars
  • Alcoholic drinks

What Does a Day on a Clear Liquid Diet Look Like?

As there is not much choice in a clear liquid diet, therefore, you have to repeat drinks. However, it is important to follow the diet instructions exactly as your doctor has prescribed for the best result. A typical menu for the clear liquid diet is as below:


If you are on a clear liquid diet then for breakfast you can have a bowl of gelatin with one glass of pulp-free fruit juice and a cup of coffee or tea with sugar or honey. Remember your tea or coffee should be without dairy.


As you do not have many options, therefore, for snacks you can have again a bowl of gelatin or a glass of pulp-free fruit juice.


For lunch, you can have a bowl of broth and a bowl of gelatin. Also, have a glass of plain water and a glass of pulp-free fruit juice.


For a second snack, you can have a pulp-free Popsicle, a cup of tea, or coffee with honey or sugar. Also, you can have a soda instead of coffee or tea. But remember, if you are drinking coffee or tea; do not add any sort of dairy product to it but you can add lemon to your tea.


For dinner take a bowl of broth and a bowl of gelatin with a glass of pulp-free fruit juice or water. Choose to take a cup of coffee or tea without dairy. You can add sugar or honey to it.

Pros and Cons of a Clear Liquid Diet

clear liquid diet

Source: medicalnewstoday.com

Here are the Pros and Cons of a Clear Liquid Diet.

Pros Of Clear Liquid Diet

Doctor prescribes this diet; therefore, it is important for you. Although the diet is not exciting at all, you have to follow the doctor’s instructions for your better health. The diet is effective and keeps your stomach and intestines clear. It is easy and inexpensive to follow and keeps your body hydrated. The diet helps you to get ready for a medical test, surgery, or other medical procedure. Also, it helps in recovering from surgery or other medical procedures.

Cons Of Clear Liquid Diet

As this diet lacks many calories and nutrients, therefore, you will always feel tired and hungry especially for the first two days. Also, there is a limited choice of drinks which gets boring. If you are unable to follow the diet instructions exactly then you have to reschedule the whole procedure for another time.

Also, it is difficult for a diabetic patient because this clear liquid diet must provide approximately 200 grams of carbohydrate, and Blood sugar levels need to be monitored. To manage blood sugar these 200 grams of carbohydrates must be spread equally throughout the day.

ENT Procedures Requiring a Clear Liquid Diet

clear liquid diet: Glass Of water

Source: muskoka411.com

Many ENT surgeries require a clear liquid diet immediately after having general anesthesia. For example, Surgeries related to the ear, nose, and throat need a clear liquid diet foods. It reduces the risks of many complications after the surgery. It helps in the prevention of any food-related issues while the patient is healing.

When you wake up, you will be able to advance your diet to solid foods. Also, after discharge, your diet will be as it was before the surgery. Examples of the surgeries that require an immediate clear liquid diet after the operation are as below:

  • Myringotomy
  • Sinus surgery
  • Tonsillectomy or adenoidectomy

Some surgeries require a clear liquid diet for a very short-term but in some cases, it requires a longer-term. In a long-term diet, you may need to extend this diet for three to four days but a short-term diet usually lasts for about 1 day. Myotomy for achalasia and esophagectomy are two surgeries that require a clear liquid diet only for one day.

How to Survive a Clear Liquid Diet?

A constant feeling of hunger is the biggest challenge in a clear liquid diet because these dietary plans do not provide all essential nutrients to our bodies. Here are some ideas are written below to avoid food cravings and to feel full when you are on a clear liquid diet:

  • Drink plenty of water to suppress hunger pangs
  • Have a variety of flavors like sweet gelatin with salty electrolyte drinks
  • Make a timetable to drink the allowed foods with fewer time differences. After every two hours, you should have something that is allowed in your diet
  • Drink a nutritional supplement if your doctor allows you

Clear Liquid Diet and Weight Loss

The clear liquid diet food is not a safe and effective option for weight loss. This diet does not include any solid food and hence there are not many beneficial nutrients like that in foods like fruits and vegetables. This is the reason that doctors do not recommend it to follow this diet for more than 3-5 days.

It is a short-term crash diet that does not lead to weight loss because it does not change your permanent eating habits. If someone will stick to this eating pattern for a long time without any consultation by a doctor then he or she will suffer the following range of symptoms written below:

  • Headaches
  • Multiple mood swings
  • Weakness in the body
  • Infertility
  • Pain in muscle
  • Bone damage
  • Heart problems
  • Severe hunger pains
  • Diarrhea
  • Nutritional or electrolyte imbalances
  • Eating disorders
  • Endocrine disorders


Since the clear liquid diet has low calories and nutrients value, you should not go for this diet by yourself or expand the diet days. This diet should be recommended by a doctor and you should stick to it properly. A little change in the diet will cause you the problem and you may need to start the whole procedure from the start.

This diet also varies from person to person depending on the health conditions that are determined by various health tests. For example, for colonoscopy, you are not allowed to drink any red or purple drinks because that will affect some of the related test results. Likewise, if you are a diabetic person then you have to be extra careful with your liquid diet. 

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