Low Residue Diet: Everything That You Need To Know About

Following a low residue diet reduces the amount of undigested food moving through the intestine, resulting in a reduced amount of stool and the frequency of passing stool in a day. This type of diet is suitable for people with inflammatory bowel disease who are experiencing a flare-up.

If you are preparing for a colonoscopy, you may also need to follow a low residue diet depending on the doctor’s prescription. People who are on a low-fiber diet find it hard to get all the essential nutrients. But with adequate planning, you can get all the vital nutrients from various low-fiber foods too. All that you need to do is just act smartly.

Wondering what is low residue diet is? To help you with creating an excellent low-residue diet plan, we came up with this article for you.

What is Low Residue Diet?

If you want to follow a low residue diet, you may have to put a few demands on your digestive tract. It is similar to a low-fiber diet, but a low residue diet excludes food that may stimulate bowel contractions.

Residue refers to materials left in the digestive tract after the early stages of digestion are completed. These materials usually contain a lot of fiber because your body is not able to digest such fibers properly.

You should not consume indigestible material; it will cause your body to produce less stool than usual.

How Does the Low Residue Diet Work?

low residue diet

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The amount of fiber that you can consume on a regular diet is about 25-39 grams. However, this amount of fiber may not be suitable for people with IBD. If you are experiencing IBD or undergoing bowel surgery, you should avoid consuming high fiber.

Suppose you are on a low residue diet. In that case, you should ideally consume up to 10-15 grams of fiber in a day, avoid dairy products and some types of carbohydrates to avoid abdominal cramping and diarrhea. Your healthcare professional or dietitian should supervise you if you are on a low residue diet. Low residue diets are generally for short-term use. 

Low residue can also change your gut microbiome; you should determine the amount and types of food and how long your diet should continue. . However, this diet is not for the long term. There are some guidelines for this diet, and you can change them based on how the body reacts to a low residue diet and what your doctor suggests.

What are the Benefits of a Low Residue Diet?

High fiber foods tend to leave some plant particles in the colon that the body cannot digest. These undigested materials usually come from fruits, whole grains, and vegetables, and some dairy products can also leave some residue behind.

The left particles do not pose any problem; in fact, it is the residue that keeps the stools bulky and helps move them through the intestines. However, in some cases, when your bowel needs to be slowed to allow healing, for example, you should adjust your diet if you suffer from a digestive disorder such as diverticulitis, 

How Long Should We Follow a Low Residue Diet?

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The duration of your low residue diet depends on the reason your doctor suggested it to you. Following a low residue diet for about seven days before a colonoscopy can make the preparation easier. This same reason also implies surgery preparation such as colectomy, but you may still need to continue your low residue food until your intestines are healed completely.

For people who have a digestive disorder, a low residue diet may be something that your doctor will recommend for you for the long term or on an ongoing basis.

What to Eat- Low Residue Diet?

low residue diet

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Your choices may be limited while you are on a low residue diet; it is still possible to meet the daily nutritional requirements if you include as much food variety as possible. Use the low residue food recommendation as a guide. Keep in mind that research indicates that people with gastrointestinal disorders use trial and error to determine which foods contribute best to the symptoms.

People with diverticular disease, for instance, reported fewer symptoms when eating high-fiber.


Fruits like, pumpkin, apricots, and bananas are alright to consume as long as you remove pits, seeds, peels. However, fruits with seeds that can’t be easily removed, such as berries, should be avoided. Canned fruit and fruit cocktail cups are acceptable. But don’t have dried fruit, especially raisins, figs, dates, and prunes.

You can drink some fruit juice as long as you choose that food that does not have pulp; you should avoid high-fiber prune juice.


You should consume bread and pasta with refined carbohydrates; eat white rice instead of brown rice, rice pilaf, or wild rice. You can consume soda crackers and melba toasts.

Instead of using whole grain bread like rye, you should use white bread for making toast and sandwiches. Avoid high-fiber snacks such as popcorn. 

Do not eat oatmeal; instead, you should eat hot cereals such as flour. If you want to eat cold cereals, you can include puffed rice or corn flakes. Do not eat bran and any cereals containing nuts, seeds, or chocolate.

Dairy Products

Limit milk products to no more than two cups in a day. Low-lactose options such as cottage cheese are alright to consume. You can also include yogurt in your daily servings of dairy but make sure to choose plain flavors.


Consume a lot of water; you can drink carbonated beverages like seltzer, though they may increase gastric problems. Caffeine from coffee, soda, and tea aggravates some people with digestive disorders, although you can include them in your low residue food. If you have a cup of coffee or tea, make sure that it has no milk or creamer. It will help if you avoid alcohol at all costs.


You should eat soft-boiled eggs; as mentioned earlier, you should avoid nuts and seeds. If you stick to creamy varieties, you can eat nut butter. You should eat lean meat without a gristle and cook it until it is tender. Also, Don’t fry the meat or add heavy spices. 

You can also include tofu in your diet as a protein source or use it as a base for smoothies and shakes. It would help if you avoided beans and legumes such as peas and lentils.


You can eat cakes and cookies that are made with refined white flour and sugar. Avoid desserts containing chocolate, coconut, nuts, dried fruits, or nuts. Ice pops and gelatin are extra helpful if you are on a clear liquid diet.

When to Start a Low Residue Diet?

Certain medical conditions may benefit from a low residue diet. Below are some conditions when your doctor may suggest a low residue diet.

Ulcerative Colitis

A low residue diet is helpful for those who have ulcerative colitis; this condition causes ulcers and inflammation on the intestine’s inner lining. The irritation caused by this medical condition may cause people to lose their appetite and eat less, resulting in malnutrition.

Professional health care providers may suggest a low residue diet because it can help you stay well-nourished during the recovery period from a surgery or bowel obstruction.

Crohn’s Disease

Crohn’s disease is an autoimmune condition causing inflammation that damages the digestive tract. An individual is more likely to get this condition if there are family members with this condition.

There is not any actual cure for Crohn’s disease. However, a low residue diet may help you reverse the condition. People with this disease may experience bowel obstructions and ileum narrowing, or lower small intestine. A low residue diet may help you to relieve pain and cramping.

Preparing for a Colonoscopy

The primary goal for a low residue diet is to limit the number and size of stools. For this reason, doctors suggest it to someone who is about to undergo a colonoscopy. With the help of this procedure, doctors can detect abnormalities in the large intestine and rectum.

What are the Risks Involved with a Low Residue Diet?

low residue diet

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You need to know the possible symptoms of a nutritional deficiency that may happen while on a low residue diet.

Fatigue and breathing difficulty may indicate iron deficiency anemia. If your body is not getting a sufficient amount of vitamin C, you can develop symptoms of scurvy such as bleeding of the gums, loss of appetite, and skin changes. Lack of Vitamin B12 deficiency can cause neurological disorders like trouble remembering things, numbness and tingling in the limbs, and balance problems. 

You may also go through constipation while on a low-fiber diet. Drinking water will help you avoid this. If you are on a low-residue diet, it does not mean that you cannot have any fiber at all. If you have constipation as an issue, a fiber supplement may be recommended.


Your dietitian can help you to decide the appropriate diet for you along with the duration of the diet. When shifting from your low residue diet to your regular diet, ensure that you increase fiber intake slowly, by an amount of 5 grams weekly till you reach your regular fiber intake. It is also essential to consume plenty of liquids when increasing dietary fiber to avoid any health ailment.

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