Clear Liquid Diet: Purpose and Risks

A clear liquid diet is helpful when you have problems with digestion or need to prepare your body for surgery.

Clear Liquid Diet Purpose and Risks

What is a clear liquid diet?

Any food or drinks, may it be semi-solid or fully liquid as long as you can see through it, are considered clear liquids. For food, it will be considered liquid if it is partly or completely melted.

Included in the clear liquid diet are broth, gelatin, and water. It can be digested with no hindrance and can even past through the digestive system without leaving unwanted residue.

Typically, clear liquid diets are suggested by doctors when you have digestive-related conditions or before going on a certain medical procedure such as surgery. Nevertheless, it is not advised to be eaten for more than a few days because it will never supply you with adequate and enough nutrients and calories.


What Is the Purpose of Clear Liquid Diets?

If you have certain stomach problems, your doctor may point you out to a diet that includes clear liquid food and drink. Conditions such as diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting call for this kind of short-term diet.

However, clear liquid diets are not only advised during such digestive issues. Before certain medical procedures, such as tests or surgeries, the diet is also advised.


Diet Walk-Through

There are cases, wherein a full diet is not possible for a patient, thus, a clear liquid diet is recommended. It provides the patient with adequate energy and keeps the body away from dehydration. Additionally, some vital electrolytes are supplied in the body such as potassium and sodium.

What Food Are Allowed in a Clear Liquid Diet?

Any food that is out of this list should be avoided by a clear liquid dieter. Nevertheless, your doctor may alter the below list depending on your medical condition. For instance, red-colored liquids and gelatin may ask by doctors to be omitted in your diet if you need to undergo a colon examination.

Now, here is the list of food that you may eat:

  • Ice pops that do not contain nuts, seeds, bits, fruit, and milk
  • Hard candies such as peppermint round and lemon drops
  • Sugar and honey
  • Fat-free and clear broth such as consommé and bouillon
  • Sports drinks
  • Coffee and tea minus the creamer or even milk
  • Gelatin
  • Fruit-flavored beverages, including lemonade and fruit punch
  • White grape juice or apple, or all kinds of juices as long as it doesn’t contain pulp
  • Water in all forms, may it be flavored, carbonated, or even just plain

What Clear Liquids Are Forbidden in the Diet?

  • Dairy products
  • All kinds of carbonated drinks, including dark sodas such as root beer and cola
  • Vegetable juice or even strained tomato
  • Alcoholic drinks


Clear Liquid Diet Menu

To show you what it is like to be in a clear liquid diet, here is an example of a whole day menu.


  • One bowl of gelatin
  • One cup of tea or coffee, minus the dairy products
  • One glass of fruit juice without pulp
  • Honey or sugar (optional)


  • One bowl of gelatin
  • One cup broth
  • One glass of water
  • One glass of fruit juice minus the pulp


  • One cup of coffee or tea. No dairy products, as well as soft drinks
  • One ice pop, no pulp
  • Honey or sugar if desired


  • One cup coffee or tea. No dairy products included
  • One cup broth
  • One bowl of gelatin
  • One cup of water or pulp-free juice
  • Honey or sugar


What Are the Benefits of the Diet?

Just by looking at the menu, a clear liquid diet is not very exciting. However, it serves its purpose. The diet:

  • Prepares Your Body for a Medical Procedure – The diet ensures that no strains will be left out in your digestive tract before you proceed into, say, a surgery. By doing this method, doctors can inspect the inside of your body better and they could come up for a more accurate diagnosis.
  • Recovers the Body from a Medical Procedure – After being under a surgery, some patients lost their ability to digest food. Absorbing the food as well become difficult for them. But through a clear liquid diet, they give their body a chance to recover gradually, decreasing the threat of nausea on the process.
  • Preventing Gastrointestinal Distress – Certain conditions require the help of a clear liquid diet. For instance, it may be very helpful with nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. It will prevent the body to be dehydrated and it will reduce the harmful effect of some viruses in your stomach.


What Are the Risks?

Clear liquid diets cannot be done with your own will. It should be prescribed by your doctor. For instance, this kind of diet will never give your body complete calories and nutrients it needs. Thus, doing the diet for more than a few days is prohibited. Doing the diet for an extended period may result in:

  • Weakness
  • Headaches
  • Bone damage
  • Muscle pain
  • Infertility
  • Heart problems
  • Mood swings

Again, it should be as what your doctor directed you or else it will result in malnutrition. Thus, the following group of people is at risk if they do a clear liquid diet:

  • People who are underweight
  • People with certain endocrine disorders
  • People with eating disorders
  • People with nutritional or electrolyte imbalances

Furthermore, if you are undergoing a test and your doctor told you to follow a clear liquid diet, make sure to strictly follow your doctor’s instructions. Failing to do so can lead your test results into inaccuracy, which may lead to another examination to schedule.

If the clear liquid diet is prescribed by your doctor but you have diabetes, tell your doctor about the condition to avoid any risk. The diet should contain food and/or drinks that offer carbohydrate for about 200 grams. In a day, it should be delivered equally to manage the level of your blood glucose. Blood sugar levels in people with diabetes are vital, and so it is important to be monitored. Moreover, transitioning from liquid food to solid should be monitored as well, and should be done as fast as possible.

Lastly, clear liquid diets are not recommendable for weight loss purpose. The main purpose of the diet is listed in the benefits section. Other than that, it is too risky to try the diet without your doctor’s prescription.

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