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Liquid Diet- What you need to know

Updated on: July 15, 2021
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Liquid diets such as fruit smoothies, soups, and stews are usually supplements to regular diets. But in recent years, the liquid diet has proven to serve more purpose than just a sidekick to solid food.

A full liquid diet includes fluids, few fibers, and other additives. There are many reasons people resort to liquid diets. Some take liquid diets to lose weight, while others take them after surgery to sustain feeding until swallowing is possible.

Some may also take liquid diets if they have some forms of gut problems like gastroparesis: inability to digest solid food.

Doctors and dietitians recommend liquid diets as a short-term form of feeding. Patients are advised to revert to solid food; as soon as they recover from the reason they started liquid diets in the first place.

When do doctors and dietitians recommend liquid diets?

Doctors and dietitians usually recommend a liquid diet plan when the patient or the person in question can't swallow solid food. Liquid diets are easy to take, and don't require much stress to make and consume. They are usually light and easily digestible for patients with gut problems.

Your doctor is likely to recommend a liquid diet plan if you undergo, suffer, or recovering from the following conditions and procedures:

  • Dental or oral surgery
  • Before and after pancreatic surgery
  • Recovering from mouth or jaw injuries which may prevent chewing.
  • During tests such as colonoscopy
  • Teeth loss from injuries or infection
  • Mild gastroparesis

Recently, dietitians recommend liquid diets for weight loss. This recommendation supports the fact that consuming liquid diets prevents the patient from consuming too many calories. 

Research even suggests that the low-calorie format of liquid diets can aid in weight loss. The idea of consuming liquid diets prevents overeating and keeps your weight in check.

However, this method of weight loss is not sustainable because most people tend to regain the lost weight weeks after they revert to their usual diet.

Types of liquid diets

Liquid diets are divided into two types:

  • The full liquid diet.
  • The clear liquid diet.

The full liquid diet

The full liquid diet consists of mostly liquid food material with fibers and other additives to supplement it. A full liquid diet is the closest thing to eating solid food when compared to a clear liquid diet. It's the middle ground between solid food and a clear liquid diet.

Liquid Diet- What you need to know 1

The full liquid diet includes food with a much thicker consistency. These foods include:

  • Soups

These include gravies, tomato purees, pureed meat and vegetables, pureed sweet or Irish potatoes, and other pureed food materials.

  • Drinks

Coffee, tea, and other hot drinks. Milk and milkshakes. Soft drinks, lemonades, limeades, and other vegetable and fruit drinks.

  • Desserts

Plain yogurts (without nuts, seeds, and any solid food material), whipped cream or any whipped toppings, sherbets, sorbets, custard (no solid toppings), gelatin, and plain ice cream.

  • Other full liquid diets

 Gravy, syrups, honey, salt, sugar, ice cubes(to suck on), popsicles, butter, and jelly.

Full liquid diets contain more flavors and nutrients. This claim stands only when compared to the clear liquid diet. However, full liquid diets do not contain enough protein or fiber when compared to a normal diet.

If you're considering a full liquid diet for a relatively long time (like a few days), stick to nutrient-rich liquid diets with enough protein and a considerable amount of nutrients.

Some of these foods include:

  • Protein drinks (with less sugar as possible)
  • Dairy ( lactose-intolerant people should consider nut and seed milk)
  • Pureed eggs, meat, and beans.
  • Gravy (can contain pureed meat) with mashed sweet or Irish potatoes.

The diet list above should only be considered during recovery. When you're well enough to take solid food again, you should certainly go back to them. Always consult your doctor or dietitian if you have any questions concerning your diet.

Your dietitian will construct a better diet plan that suits your feeding needs and coincides with your body system.

The clear liquid diet

A clear liquid diet consists of a clear liquid with little or no visible residue.This form of liquid diet is easily digestible and emptied from the stomach without remains.

Doctors recommend a clear liquid diet when they want to test or diagnose a patient without needing any form of food residue in their gut. They also recommend it during several kinds of gastrointestinal surgeries. 

Liquid Diet- What you need to know 2

A clear liquid diet consists of a clear liquid with little or no visible residue.This form of liquid diet is easily digestible and emptied from the stomach without remains.

Doctors recommend a clear liquid diet when they want to test or diagnose a patient without needing any form of food residue in their gut. They also recommend it during several kinds of gastrointestinal surgeries. 

Since a clear liquid diet can't provide your daily calories, doctors and dietitians usually recommend it for just a few days and not longer than that unless necessary.

Most clear liquid diets are transparent or translucent in bottles or containers. They also melt or thaw at room temperature. Doctors advise not to consume any solid food while on a clear liquid diet.

A clear liquid diet mainly provides or maintains required body hydration, replenishing body electrolytes, and restoring energy in a short time when the energy from a normal diet is unavailable.

Most clear diet plans are likely to consist of:

  • Water.
  • Sports drinks.
  • Tea, coffee, and other beverages (without milk, cocoa, cream, and other solid additives)
  • Fruit juices without the solids.
  • Lemonades and fruit punch(without any added solids).
  • Honey.
  • Carbonated drinks.
  • Candies (must be hard, sucked and shouldn't be swallowed).
  • Plain Gelatin.

The clear liquid diet might not be appealing in terms of taste. However, it plays its role in reducing the stress in your digestive system while keeping your body hydrated and functional.

The Pros and Cons of taking liquid diets

There are lots of pros and cons of consuming liquid diets. As much as doctors and dietitians recommend liquid diets, they also have drawbacks associated with its consumption.

The Pros of consuming liquid diets

  1. Weight loss

Liquid diets can be beneficial in lots of ways. One of the most obvious benefits can be observed in weight loss. High-calorie intake is one of the main factors that contribute to weight gain. Most liquid diets are low-calorie diets and this might help some people lose weight if taken in moderation.

  1. Convenience

Liquid diets are convenient to take because they don't require much time and effort. It's easier to gobble down an orange juice than to sulk the orange directly as a fruit.

  1. May remove toxins

Liquid diets give the body the required time to sort itself out. Due to the low amount of calories present in liquid diets, the body uses the time spared to clear harmful toxins and oxidants from its system.

  1. It's cheap

Liquid diets are pretty cheap to assemble. Since it's a combination of available food materials, you can easily buy them in the closest grocery store across the street.

The cons of consuming liquid diets

  1. Nutrient deprivation

Liquid diets may deprive the body of the necessary vitamins and minerals required for overall body function. Since few solid foods can easily be converted to liquid food, most people taking liquid are likely to miss out on the nutrients available in other solid foods.

  1. Potential nutrient deficiency

Since most liquid diets don't contain enough vitamins and minerals, their nutrients are often not balanced. The result? Nutrient deficiencies. Lack of vitamins and minerals in the body can result in deficiencies such as scurvy, osteomalacia, night blindness, etc.

  1. Inadequate digestion

Most liquid diets are not properly digested because they bypass some digestive channels such as the mouth. The digestion of foods like carbs begins in the mouth. If that channel is bypassed, the food is likely to be poorly digested and won't be well utilized by the body.

Potential Benefits of an all liquid diet.

Liquid diets offer lots of benefits to both the patient, the physician, and the dietitian. All Liquid diet helps in situations where the patient can't swallow or digest solid food.

Below are the possible benefits of an all-liquid diet.

  1. Safety

An all-liquid diet can ensure safety to patients suffering or recovering from some conditions. For example, patients with broken jaws, incisions caused by broken teeth, or those who underwent dental surgeries can be protected from pain by consuming liquid diets. 

Liquid diets help to prevent the debris from solid entering the oral wound site and causing infections.

  1. Error-free tests and diagnosis

A clear liquid diet is usually recommended before colonoscopy. This is to allow doctors to see any abnormal cells in the colon during the process. 

A Liquid diet makes it possible for the patient to have some food in their gut; while also allowing the doctor to see the colon a lot clearer during diagnosis.

  1. Easier digestion

Liquid diets digest easily in the stomach. This is because it's easier for a fluid diet to empty from the stomach than solid food. 

During the digestion of liquid diets, the stomach usually requires less energy to digest and empty them. The time required is also lesser when compared to the digestion of solid food.

Potential risks associated with liquid diets

There are risks and concerns involved with taking an all liquid diet. Doctors and dietitians recommend liquid diets as a short term alternative (usually a few days). After the procedure that prompted the liquid diet is completed, you need to resume your normal diet.

Before consuming a full liquid diet, you have to pay attention to the following potential risks involved;

  1. Weight loss

Liquid diets can be a blessing to those that want to shed some weight. However, for those who need to maintain their normal weight, it can also be a curse. 

Due to the low calorie nature of liquid diets, most people that consume them lose a certain amount of weight. If you're underweight, it's crucial to discuss more with your doctor so you can get a calorie-rich liquid diet plan with the adequate calories you need.

  1. Calorie deficiency

Most people taking an all liquid diets risk a severe case of calorie deficiency. Calories are an important aspect of feeding, and if the body doesn't get much calories, it drops it's metabolic rate. 

A calorie deficiency may result in conditions such as fatigue, hair loss, dizziness, electrolyte imbalance, muscle loss, and in some severe cases, heart diseases.

  1. Changes in gut health

An all liquid diet may cause some abnormal changes to your gut microbiome. Fibres are known as one of the facilitators of a healthy gut. Depriving the gut of relevant fiber meals(as seen in liquid diets) will disrupt the healthy process of your gut microbiome.

Things to consider before choosing an all liquid diet plan.

It's a careless practice to jump into an all liquid diet without consulting your doctor or dietitian. Your doctor or dietitian will assess you to know if you're fit enough to consume an all liquid diet.

Before planning an all liquid diet plan, there are factors they will consider. These factors help to reduce the risks and maximize the benefits of taking the diet.

Some of these factors include:

  • Pregnancy
  • Age
  • Weight
  • Pre-existing conditions such as diabetes, gastrointestinal disorders, and Cancer
  • Recurrent fever, nausea, and vomiting
  • Food allergies and other food hypersensitivities
  • Kidney diseases
  • Heart disease
  • Daily calorie intake

Your doctor or registered dietitian will most likely consider these factors before drafting a legit liquid diet plan for you.

How to get started with liquid diet plans

Starting with a liquid diet may need monitoring from your dietitian. Your dietitian will draft a plan based on the food safe for you to consume during the regimen.

You may need to follow the diet plan legitimately to get the required benefits. 

A typical liquid diet meal plan may look like this:


  • 1 glass pulp-free fruit juice
  • 1 bowl jello
  • 1 cup of coffee or tea, without dairy products
  • Sugar or honey, if desired


  • 1 glass fruit juice (pulp-free)
  • 1 bowl jello


  • 1 glass pulp-free fruit juice
  • 1 glass water
  • 1 cup broth
  • 1 bowl jello


  • 1 pulp-free ice pop
  • 1 cup coffee or tea, without dairy products, or a soft drink
  • Sugar or honey if desired.


  • 1 cup pulp-free juice or water
  • 1 cup broth
  • 1 bowl jello
  • 1 cup coffee or tea, without dairy products
  • Sugar or honey, if desired. (Source: Mayoclinic)

Some of the foods above may be adjusted based on your doctor's recommendation. You can ask other relevant questions to give you a heads up on what to expect while taking the diet.

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