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High-Protein 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.
High-Protein Liquid Diet
Physicians prescribe a liquid diet for several reasons. Photo Credit: Thomas Northcut/Digital Vision/Getty Images

A high-protein liquid diet is a medically prescribed meal plan. Physicians prescribe this diet regimen for a number of reasons. Most commonly, your doctor may prescribe a high-protein liquid diet preoperatively to promote weight loss before bariatric surgery, as well as postoperatively to help your recovery. Your doctor may also prescribe a high-protein liquid diet to treat obesity when other diets have failed.

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Pre-Operative High-Protein Liquid Diet

Surgeon preparing to perform surgery.
Surgeon preparing to perform surgery. Photo Credit: moodboard/moodboard/Getty Images

Following a high-protein liquid diet before weight loss surgery helps reduce surgical risk. Guidelines may vary, but typically you can expect to consume at least five protein drinks each day, along with clear, sugar-free fluids. It's typical to follow this diet for seven to 14 days before your surgery date. You can find protein supplements at your local grocery store. Look for protein powder or drinks that contain at least 15 grams of protein per 8-ounce serving, less than 20 grams of total carbohydrates, less than 5 grams of fat and no more than 200 calories per serving.

Post-Operative Implementation

Low fat yogurt is a good post-operative food.
Low fat yogurt is a good post-operative food. Photo Credit: fotofermer/iStock/Getty Images

Immediately following bariatric surgery, a high-protein liquid diet provides nutrition while your body heals. This regimen allows you to eat a wider variety of foods, but they must have a smooth, liquid consistency. It's typical to have six liquid meals each day. You will have a protein drink for three of these meals. For the other three meals, you choose a one-fourth to one-half cup serving of liquid protein foods such as low-fat yogurt, low-fat pudding, fat-free milk or soy milk. Your physician checks your progress and determines when you can expand to other foods.

Obesity Regimen

Soup is easily digestible.
Soup is easily digestible. Photo Credit: YelenaYemchuk/iStock/Getty Images

Your doctor may prescribe a medically-monitored high-protein liquid plan for weight loss when other measures have failed. The Optifast diet is one example. Typically, you follow this diet for 12 to 16 weeks before slowly transitioning back to solid foods. You can expect to choose five pre-packaged Optifast meals each day, which consist of shakes and soups. Expected weight loss is two to four pounds per week. On programs such as Optifast, you're encouraged to attend weekly nutrition counseling sessions to gain the knowledge and skills to maintain long-term weight loss.

Points to Consider

Remain under a doctor's supervision.
Remain under a doctor's supervision. Photo Credit: Monkey Business Images/Monkey Business/Getty Images

The amount of calories you consume will vary. For example, the typical Optifast diet provides 800 to 1000 calories per day. Doctors commonly prescribe a multivitamin while on liquid diets to ensure that you meet your nutrition needs. Your doctor may also recommend a fiber supplement since this regimen typically lacks fiber. It's crucial to undertake a high-protein liquid diet only under your doctor's supervision.

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