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What is a Clear Liquid Diet?

Diane Goettel
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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A clear liquid diet is a diet that is made up completely of liquids that are easy to digest and leave little to no material in the digestive tract. It is common for doctors to prescribe clear liquids to their patients prior to medical procedures. This is especially common if the patient has digestive problems or if the procedure has to do with the digestive tract. This kind of diet might also be prescribed to patients who are experiencing nausea or vomiting, or those recovering from certain kinds of medical procedures.

This diet does not offer sufficient nutrients or calories in the long term. For this reason, it is important not to stay on a clear liquid diet for more than a few days unless a doctor indicates otherwise. It can only offer hydration and some electrolytes, and provide a small amount of energy. It is not a sustainable diet.

While maintaining a clear liquid diet, it is important to refrain from liquids that have pulp or are not completely clear. Orange juice and milk, for examples, should not be consumed as a part of this diet. In addition to plain water, there are a number of juices that can be consumed by people who are on a diet of clear liquids. Acceptable juices include apple juice, cranberry juice, pomegranate juice, and grape juice. Lemonade is acceptable, but only if it has been strained to remove any pulp.

In addition to juices, sports drinks and clear sodas such as ginger ale can be consumed as part of a clear liquid diet. Tea and coffee are also acceptable as long as they do not include milk, cream, or powdered creamer. It is acceptable to flavor tea with honey.

Vegetable broth, chicken broth, and beef broth can also be added to a clear liquid diet. Chicken broth and beef broth can be especially important because they are some of the only "clear" liquids that offer protein. There are a very few solid foods that can be consumed as a part of this kind of diet. The most common solid foods that are allowed on clear liquid diets are gelatin and ice pops. The gelatin must be plain, without anything added, and the ice pops must not include fruit bits or fruit pulp.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Diane Goettel
By Diane Goettel
"Diane Goettel has a BA from Sarah Lawrence College and an MA in English from Brooklyn College. Diane lives in Mount Vernon, New York with her husband, Noah. They are the proud parents of a Doberman Pinscher named Spoon. Specialties: book editing, book marketing, book publishing, freelance writing, magazine publishing, magazine writing, copywriting,"
Discussion Comments
By bythewell — On May 24, 2011

Clear broth is really good as a way to lose weight, although you should never try to have a clear liquid diet by itself unless you are told to by a doctor. Drinking some broth or some miso soup is a good way to start a meal though. It's quite filling and healthy and will help to stop you from eating too much of the main meal.

Just don't use it as a diet meal in itself. Moderation is the key.

By lluviaporos — On May 23, 2011

I met a girl who was on one of these diets. She had had severe food poisoning, or some other kind of stomach upset, leading her to really hurt her stomach. The doctor had given her a very strict diet so her stomach could heal, and it started off with a couple of days of clear liquids. We met at a wedding so she was very disappointed that she couldn't eat anything there (although she still seemed pretty sick). She said it was very difficult to keep to the diet, even though she felt ill. The clear liquid diet foods were just too bland and boring, but she had to eat so much of them to keep her calories up.

She just kept some broth in a bottle by her side and sipped it as though it was water.

Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel
"Diane Goettel has a BA from Sarah Lawrence College and an MA in English from Brooklyn College. Diane lives in Mount...
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