Clear Liquid Diet

Author: Karen Arnold-Korzeniowski, MSN RN
Last Reviewed: July 31, 2023

A clear liquid diet is a diet of only clear, liquid foods. The foods can be colored, but you need to be able to see through them. Any food that you can see through and that turns to liquid at room temperature is part of a liquid diet.

What are examples of foods in a clear liquid diet?

On a clear liquid diet, you can eat:

  • Water.
  • Clear juices without pulp.
  • Fruit flavored beverages.
  • Sports drinks.
  • Clear broths.
  • Gelatin.
  • Carbonated drinks (such as soda).
  • Water ice or popsicles that don’t have milk, seeds, or bits of fruit in them.
  • Tea or coffee, hot or iced, without milk or creamer. Honey and sugar are okay.
  • Hard candy.

Milk, yogurt, and ice cream are not part of a clear liquid diet because you cannot see through them.

Why do you need to be on a clear liquid diet?

There are a number of reasons you may need to be on a clear liquid diet. Clear liquids are easy for your body to digest and will not leave small pieces of food in your digestive system. You may need to be on this diet to help manage issues like nausea and vomiting, if you are receiving general anesthesia for surgery or a procedure, or if you need certain imaging tests done.

Are there any risks of a clear liquid diet?

A clear liquid diet will provide you with hydration and often electrolytes, but it is not a diet you should be on for more than a few days as your only means of nutrition. It cannot provide you all the nutrients that you need. Your provider will tell you how long you should be on this diet.

If you are a diabetic, you should talk to your provider about your specific needs. Many clear liquid diet foods have high amounts of sugar.


National Library of Medicine. Oates, J. M. & Sharma, S. Clear Liquid Diet. 2022.


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