Clear Liquid Diet: Uses and Effectiveness

Updated on May 7, 2020
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What is the Clear Liquid Diet?

The Clear Liquid Diet is a nutrition plan specifically prescribed before certain medical procedures, such as medical tests, colonoscopy or surgery. It consists of clear liquids such as water, apple juice, tea, certain sport drinks and broths. The point is to clean your stomach and intestines before the procedure. This diet is extremely low in calories, so it should not be followed for more than a few days. Sticking to this diet for an extended period of time can cause nutrient deficiencies. It is not the diet for weight loss, and should be followed only after the recommendation of a doctor. 

Clear Liquid Diet options: 

Typically all liquids that you can see through are considered to be clear liquids which means that you can consume them on this diet. For example, clear juices, broths, hard candy, ice, and gelatin. However, the complete list of foods to eat and to avoid should be provided by your physician or nutritionist as it depends on your medical condition and may vary from person to person. Here is the list of clear liquid diet foods that the diet usually includes:

  • Water
  • Fruit juices without pulp (apple, cranberry, white grape juice)
  • Fruit-flavored beverages (fruit punch, lemonade)
  • Carbonated drinks (root beer)
  • Gelatin
  • Tea or coffee without milk or cream (you can add sugar or lemon juice)
  • Strained tomato or vegetable juice
  • Sports drinks
  • Clear, fat-free broth (bouillon or consomme)
  • Honey or sugar
  • Hard candy (lemon drops or peppermint rounds)
  • Ice pops without milk, bits of fruit, seeds or nuts
  • Clear nutritional drinks (Enlive, Ensure Clear)

Note, any solid foods should be excluded from the diet as it may lead to rescheduling an upcoming medical procedure.

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Foods and beverages to avoid on the Clear Liquid Diet:

  • Milk and yogurt
  • Tomato and vegetable juices (unstrained)
  • Fruit juice with pulp
  • Fruit nectars
  • Alcoholic drinks

Doctors may recommend avoiding clear liquids with red or purple coloring before some tests like colonoscopy to get the accurate results of the test. These can interfere with test imaging as the red color, for example, can persist in the colon and potentially look like blood.

To sum up, you have to follow the Clear Liquid Diet only if you have certain medical conditions and your doctor has told you to stick to it. This diet is an effective way of cleaning your stomach and intestines. However, following it as a diet for weight loss may cause numerous health problems like headaches, heart problems and bone damage. Moreover, as with any crash diet, you’ll get back all your pounds right after you stop following it. 


This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!

The Editorial Team at Healthcare Business Today is made up of skilled healthcare writers and experts, led by our managing editor, Daniel Casciato, who has over 25 years of experience in healthcare writing. Since 1998, we have produced compelling and informative content for numerous publications, establishing ourselves as a trusted resource for health and wellness information. We offer readers access to fresh health, medicine, science, and technology developments and the latest in patient news, emphasizing how these developments affect our lives.