What is a Liquid Diet?

Alyssa Ast

A liquid diet typically consists entirely of liquids and is generally required before certain medical tests, surgeries, and medical procedures. This diet can help clear the stomach and intestines of all food products prior to a procedure. Often, this type of medical diet can be used to relieve other digestive complications such as nausea and vomiting. People with certain medical conditions might be required to use the liquid diet, as well. In non-medical instances, some people use liquid diets to help flush their systems and for quick weight loss.

A soft drink, which can be consumed on a liquid diet.
A soft drink, which can be consumed on a liquid diet.

The typical liquid diet includes water, plain gelatin, and broth. As a medical diet, it allows patients to have no undigested residue in the intestinal tract after consumption. While the diet provides adequate hydration, it usually does not provide a sufficient supply of nutrients or calories. For this reason, it generally is recommended that it be used only for a limited period of time.

Sports drinks, which can be drunk on a liquid diet.
Sports drinks, which can be drunk on a liquid diet.

Common liquids that can be included with this type of diet include fruit juices that contain no pulp. Plain coffee, tea, sports drinks, and soft drinks usually can be consumed under the liquid diet guidelines, as well. Fruitless and pulpless ice pops might also be included in the diet to provide a change in eating routine without straying from the basic requirements.

A liquid diet typically consists of drinking eight glasses of water per day.
A liquid diet typically consists of drinking eight glasses of water per day.

After a person has undergone the liquid diet, his or her intestinal and digestive tracts should remain free from food residue. This allows the strain on the digestive system to be minimal while keeping the body adequately hydrated. Most often, a normal diet can be resumed after medical tests, procedures, or surgeries have been concluded.

While a liquid diet can be beneficial under certain circumstances, it also can cause harm if used for a prolonged period of time. Because the diet lacks the proper calories and nutrients the body needs for survival, rapid weight loss can easily occur, which could lead to serious health complications if not promptly corrected. Generally, this medical diet should only be used under the supervision and consultation of a certified health professional.

If a health professional has ordered a patient to undergo a liquid diet, it typically is vital that the instructions are correctly followed. In some cases, the exclusion of red dyes from the liquid diet is required, as is the case for most colon exams. Incorrect or abnormal test results or complications during surgery can occur if the diet is not properly followed.

Generally, the liquid diet should only be used under the consultation of a certified health professional.
Generally, the liquid diet should only be used under the consultation of a certified health professional.

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Discussion Comments

julies

There are some diet programs where you use a liquid diet combined with one other meal for a weight loss program. You will usually drink a protein type shake for two meals of the day and have a sensible meal for your third meal.

This would not be a full liquid diet, but many people have had good results losing weight like this. I think one of the hardest parts of using a liquid diet, is that it is not very satisfying and all you want to do is get off of it. That is when the weight comes back on, and you went through all of that for nothing.

myharley

I always cringe when I hear the words, "all liquid diet". For me, this is always associated with some kind of medical procedure that must come afterward, like a colonoscopy.

Thankfully, I have never had to be on a liquid diet for a long period of time. It is too hard for me to go without some kind of solid food and if I want to lose some weight, I will find some other way to do it, like cutting back on my portions.

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