Liquid diet plans are best for people experiencing gut issues, preparing for a procedure or recovering from surgery. However, liquid diet plans can vary — some contain only clear fluids, while others include fiber. The longer the diet's duration, the more food flexibility you should have.
Three-Day Liquid Diet Plans
There are a variety of different liquid diet plans. Knowing what to expect can help you prepare tasty meals that follow the guidelines set by your provider. However, be aware that not all liquid diet plans are the same.
According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine's website, MedlinePlus, clear liquid diets include only clear fluids and any fluids that are clear at room temperature, which means they lack significant amounts of fat.
Three-day liquid diets that include only clear fluids are sometimes recommended for people who are about to undergo certain medical tests or procedures, like surgery. According to the Mayo Clinic and Cleveland Clinic, these diets are also often recommended as part of the recovery process following gastrointestinal surgeries, like gallbladder removal surgery or gastric bypass surgery.
A clear liquid diet can benefit people who have been ill and have experienced symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea, in addition to those with diverticulitis. In general, clear liquid diet plans are never meant to be consumed in the long term; they're simply short-term strategies that can help promote recovery.
Short-Term Liquid Diets
A full liquid diet allows people to consume more fat. Like the clear liquid diet plan, the full liquid diet is often suitable for people prior to medical tests and procedures. Unlike the clear liquid diet plan, however, these diets are often consumed for a longer duration.
Full liquid diets are often part of the recovery process for people recovering from gastrointestinal surgeries or as part of the treatment for dysphagia (difficulty swallowing). In some cases, people may have first followed a clear liquid diet plan for a few days and are then asked to follow this liquid diet plan. This allows them to gradually incorporate a wider variety of foods into their diet before consuming solids and fiber-rich foods again.
A doctor may prescribe a short-term full liquid diet in the run up to weight loss surgery. Following this type of diet before bariatric surgery jumpstarts weight loss and reduces the size of the liver, a benefit that lowers the risk of complications.
Keep in mind that these diets are followed as complete meal replacements under medical supervision. They're typically followed for two weeks prior to weight loss surgery. Creating a meal plan three days at a time simplifies this type of diet. According to University of Florida Health, it's important that you aim to get 60 to 80 grams of protein when on this full liquid diet.
To ensure that you get enough nutrients, it's common for providers to prescribe a multivitamin and calcium supplement. It's a good idea to avoid attempting to create a DIY version of this type of diet. The UCLA Center for East-West Medicine says that a long-term liquid diet plan is an unhealthy choice.
Your gastrointestinal system needs dietary fiber to function properly. Additionally, excessive consumption of fruit and vegetable juices could lead to elevated triglycerides and blood sugar levels.
Clear Liquid Diet Plan
You should never use a clear liquid diet for weight loss at home. This type of diet plan is only a healthy choice following an illness or when your doctor or nutritionist has recommended it.
According to MedlinePlus, healthy people should not follow clear liquid diet plans for longer than three to four days. A clear liquid diet plan typically involves the consumption of beverages like water, tea, coffee and certain pulpless fruit or berry juices. You can also consume foods like Popsicles and gelatin. It's also possible to have animal broths, like chicken broths, as long as they are prepared as clear consommés. Even clear sodas, like ginger ale and Sprite, are fine to drink while on this diet.
Although you can consume tea and coffee, you'll need to drink them black or with sugar only. No milk or coffee creamers of any type can be consumed on this diet. If you're unable to consume foods following the clear liquid diet, your healthcare practitioner may recommend continuing the diet for a longer period. She may also have you try to ingest mashed foods or follow the full liquid diet plan.
Full Liquid Diet Foods
A full liquid diet is much more pleasant and easier to consume compared to a clear liquid diet. You can consume all the foods that are recommended for the clear liquid diet, along with beverages like milkshakes, juices, sodas, liquid supplement beverages, milk and cream. You can also eat foods like yogurt, frozen yogurt, ice cream, sherbet, pudding and creamy soups (as long as they have no solids).
Read more: 10 Ultimate Smoothies for Any Time of Day
Depending on your individual needs, your doctor may even allow you to consume powdered eggs and refined cereals like cream of wheat, oatmeal or grits. Certain pureed vegetables, like potatoes that have been cooked into soups, may also be okay to eat.
Unfortunately, mashed foods are typically not appropriate for this diet. You must also avoid the consumption of cheese, raw or cooked fruit, raw or cooked vegetables, unstrained meat products and whole cereal grains.
The full liquid diet plan is much more nutritious compared to the clear liquid diet plan. This type of liquid diet can consequently be safely consumed for longer periods of time under a dietitian's supervision.
However, you may not be able to obtain all of your essential nutrients from this diet. You won't get very much fiber from this diet, either. Your dietitian or healthcare practitioner will recommend certain vitamins, minerals and other supplements that can help you add these back into your diet.
- MedlinePlus: "Clear Liquid Diet"
- Mayo Clinic: "Gastric Bypass Diet: What to Eat After the Surgery"
- Cleveland Clinic: "5 Ways to Avoid Discomfort After Your Gallbladder Removal"
- Mayo Clinic: "Diverticulitis Diet"
- MedlinePlus: "Full Liquid Diet"
- UCLA Center for East-West Medicine: "Juicing: Body Cleansing or Nutrient Depleting?"
- Endocrine: "Safety and Efficacy of a Multiphase Dietetic Protocol With Meal Replacements Including a Step With a Very Low Calorie Diet"
- University of Florida Health: Liquid Diet Before Bariatric Surgery