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Foods to Eat Before a PET Scan

author image Elizabeth Otto
Elizabeth Otto has been writing professionally since 2003. She is a licensed emergency medical technician-intermediate with over 10 years of experience in the field. She has worked as a clinical assistant in family health and emergency medicine since 1995. Otto is a freelance writer for various websites and holds an Associate of Science in medical assisting from Commonwealth College.
Foods to Eat Before a PET Scan
A doctor checks a patients heart rate before a PET exam. Photo Credit: Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images

A positron emission tomography scan is an imaging test that uses nuclear medicine to view the body on a cellular level. The PET scan measures body functions, such as blood flow, metabolism and oxygen use, and may be used to detect disease, like cancer, and heart and brain problems. There are different types of PET scans. You may need to follow a low-carbohydrate diet 12 hours prior to a PET scan. Make sure you check with your physician to see if a special diet is needed for the type of PET scan you are having.

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A woman eats a piece of grilled salmon.
A woman eats a piece of grilled salmon. Photo Credit: Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images

A PET scan diet consists of foods that are high in protein and low in carbohydrates. Fresh, plain meat is low in carbohydrates. You may eat all types of meat prior to a PET scan, including beef, pork, poultry and fish. Refrain from eating meats that may contain breading or fillings, like stuffed chicken breasts, as these contain added carbohydrates. Do not add batter or breading to meat and do not use condiments to flavor meat. Tofu may also be consumed prior to a PET scan. Peanut butter and eggs are also acceptable choices.


A variety of cheeses on a cutting board.
A variety of cheeses on a cutting board. Photo Credit: Creatas Images/Creatas/Getty Images

You may eat cheese as part of a PET scan diet. Choose hard cheeses like Colby, Swiss or cheddar. Avoid soft cheeses that may contain added sugars as these contain carbohydrates. You may also consume plain cottage cheese. Use margarine or butter to flavor your approved foods. Stay away from additional dairy products that contain added sugar, like yogurt, milk and ice cream.


Green beans for sale at a market.
Green beans for sale at a market. Photo Credit: Jupiterimages/ Images

Non-starchy vegetables may be eaten prior to a PET scan. Vegetables that contain starch, like potatoes, corn, beets and peas, have carbohydrates and should be avoided. Approved vegetables include spinach, green beans, lettuce greens, mushrooms, broccoli and cauliflower.


A cup of decaf herbal tea.
A cup of decaf herbal tea. Photo Credit: ULTRA F/Digital Vision/Getty Images

You should avoid caffeine 24 hours prior to a PET scan. Choose non-caffeinated, sugar-free drinks like water or diet caffeine-free soda. Avoid decaffeinated products as these may subsequently contain traces of caffeine.

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