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3-Day Liquid Diet

author image Janet Renee, MS, RD
Janet Renee is a clinical dietitian with a special interest in weight management, sports dietetics, medical nutrition therapy and diet trends. She earned her Master of Science in nutrition from the University of Chicago and has contributed to health and wellness magazines, including Prevention, Self, Shape and Cooking Light.
3-Day Liquid Diet
A liquid plan has minimal digestive stimulation. Photo Credit: BWFolsom/iStock/Getty Images

A liquid diet is prescribed to help you prepare for or recover from digestive procedures. Depending on your situation your doctor may advise you to follow either a clear liquid diet or a full liquid diet. This type of diet is temporary and usually lasts only a few days. It's crucial to follow your health care provider's instructions specifically, because these dietary plans are highly individualized.

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Clear Liquids

Because it doesn't provide adequate levels of certain nutrients, avoid following this plan longer than the three days your doctor prescribes. A good rule of thumb is to choose liquids that you can see through. Strain your liquids to remove pulp, seeds or fruit bits when necessary. Clear liquid choices include fruit juices, plain gelatin, clear broth, flavored water, sports drinks, ice pops, tea, coffee, honey, clear soda, lemonade, clear nutritional supplements and hard candies.

Full Liquids

A full liquid diet includes everything on the clear plan with some additional dairy and grain options. All food must be a smooth liquid consistency. You're allowed to have cooked, refined cereals such as oatmeal, wheat porridge, grits and rice porridge. Add water to get the right liquid consistency. Other options in the full liquid plan include strained cream soups, butter, milk, pudding, custard, ice cream and fruit nectar.

Potential Restrictions

Drink plenty of water in between meals while you're on a liquid diet. Space your meals out in regular intervals to minimize hunger and cravings. Your health care provider may set additional restrictions depending on your situation. For example, you may be required to choose low-fat and fat-free options. If you're prepping for a colonoscopy, your doctor may tell you to avoid red or purple liquids because the fluid may resemble blood in your intestines. You may also be required to avoid caffeinated liquids. You'll also probably need to avoid alcoholic beverages.

Getting Enough Calories

It is often challenging to get enough calories while following a liquid diet. Your health care provider will provide you with a goal range. To get more calories on the full liquid diet add milk instead of water to your hot cereals and add a dollop of honey to your teas. Incorporate liquid meal-replacement shakes for an extra boost. Meal replacements provide additional vitamins and minerals as well. To get more calories on the clear liquid diet add a clear meal replacement to your regimen and have meals at more frequent intervals. Choose higher calorie fruit juices if you're having trouble meeting your calorie goal. For example, you might choose grape juice over grapefruit juice because it typically has more calories.

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