What Foods Are on a Clear Liquid Diet?


If your doctor has placed you on a clear liquid diet, carefully follow the guidelines to avoid compromising the effectiveness of needed medical procedures. A typical clear liquid diet only supplies about 600 calories per day and is extremely low in fat and protein. It is not meant to be followed for more than three to five days. Do not attempt a clear liquid diet unless you're under a doctor's supervision, especially if you have a chronic medical problem such as diabetes.

A glass of apple juice.
A glass of apple juice. (Image: Boarding1Now/iStock/Getty Images)

Fill Up on Fruit Juice

Fruit juices are allowed on a clear liquid diet as long as they do not contain any pulp and are light enough to see through. For example, filtered apple juice or cider is permitted, but orange juice, even if pulp-free, is not. Grape, prune and white cranberry juices are other good choices, as are commercial fruit punch mixes or ades. Do not drink fruit nectar or eat any type of fresh, canned or frozen fruit.

Two glasses of grape juice.
Two glasses of grape juice. (Image: HandmadePictures/iStock/Getty Images)

Have a Variety of Plain Beverages

You may drink water, tea, coffee, regular soft drinks, sports drinks, commercial brands of clear nutritional beverages, and clear sodas such as ginger ale while you're on a clear liquid diet. You can flavor your tea or coffee with sugar and pulp-free lemon juice, but you cannot use any cream, cow's milk or plant milk. Ask your doctor before using sugar substitutes or non-dairy creamers. Don't drink alcohol or any dairy-based beverage like milkshakes.

Woman about to pour a cup of tea from a pot.
Woman about to pour a cup of tea from a pot. (Image: DAJ/amana images/Getty Images)

Drink Clear Broth

Homemade or commercial chicken, beef, seafood or vegetable stock, broth, bouillon and consomme -- a clear soup made with stock -- can be included in your meals during your time on a clear liquid diet. Make sure they are fat-free and do not contain any pieces of meat, grains, beans or vegetables. They also cannot contain any dairy products as an ingredient. Salt may be included, but it's best to avoid strong spices or seasonings until your doctor says they are fine to consume.

A bowl of chicken broth.
A bowl of chicken broth. (Image: hipokrat/iStock/Getty Images)

Choose Sweets Carefully

The clear liquid diet guidelines allow some solid and semi-solid sweets. These include clear hard candies; prepared gelatin that does not contain any pieces of fruit, vegetables, nuts or cream; Italian fruit ices and ice pops made from clear fruit juice that is pulp-free. Even though foods like ice cream and sweetened yogurts have a similar consistency to these foods, they aren't allowed in any amount.

Strawberry gelatin.
Strawberry gelatin. (Image: vvvita/iStock/Getty Images)

Sample Daily Menu

The National Institutes of Health recommends having three to five different allowed foods at every meal when you're on the diet. Your day might begin with a cup of clear fruit juice, a cup of clear gelatin and tea for breakfast, followed by a cup of broth, water, fruit juice and gelatin for lunch. Dinner could consist of a cup each of broth, gelatin, fruit juice and coffee. Have soda, clear nutritional or sports drinks, ice pops, gelatin, juice or Italian fruit ices as snacks throughout the day.

Woman drinking a sports drink at the gym.
Woman drinking a sports drink at the gym. (Image: 4774344sean/iStock/Getty Images)

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