A clear liquid diet of water, broth, and other clear drinks can help you prepare or recover for a medical test or help relieve digestive symptoms. It might leave you tired or hungry since it lacks nutrients.

Although a clear liquid diet offers minimal nutrition, it is still easy for the body to absorb, which is why it can be helpful in order to prepare for surgery or treatments for problems related to the digestive system.

Read on to learn how the clear liquid diet works, what foods you can eat, as well as its benefits and risks.

A clear liquid diet is pretty much exactly what it sounds like: A diet consisting of exclusively clear liquids.

These include water, broth, some juices without pulp, and plain gelatin. They may be colored, but they count as clear liquids if you can see through them.

A food is considered a clear liquid when it partly or completely melts into a liquid you can see through at room temperature. You can’t eat solid foods on this diet.

Why might a clear liquid diet be prescribed?

Doctors tend to prescribe clear liquid diets prior to certain medical procedures involving the digestive tract, such as colonoscopies.

They may also recommend this diet to help relieve distress from some digestive problems, such as Crohn’s disease, diverticulitis, and diarrhea.

It may also be used before or after certain types of procedures and surgeries. This is because clear liquids are easily digested and help clean out the body’s intestinal tract. These include colonoscopy, endoscopy, and any other procedure that requires sedation or anesthesia.

Things to know before starting a clear liquid diet

If you’re prescribed a clear liquid diet prior to a colonoscopy, be sure to avoid clear liquids colored red or purple. These can interfere with test imaging. Your doctor will let you know if this is necessary.

Talk to your doctor if you have diabetes. It’s important to monitor your blood sugar carefully and make the transition back to solid foods as quickly as possible.

On a clear liquid diet, your goal is to keep yourself hydrated while still getting enough vitamins and minerals for energy for basic functioning. This diet is also intended to keep the stomach and intestines rested.

What can you eat on a clear liquid diet?

Clear liquids that are allowed include:

  • clear (fat-free) broth
  • clear nutritional drinks (Enlive, Ensure Clear)
  • carbonated sodas such as Sprite, Pepsi, and Coca-Cola
  • clear soups
  • coffee without milk or cream
  • hard candies (lemon drops or peppermint rounds)
  • honey
  • juices without pulp (apple and white cranberry)
  • lemonade without pulp
  • plain gelatin (Jell-O)
  • popsicles without fruit pulp or fruit pieces inside
  • sports drinks (Gatorade, Powerade, Vitamin Water)
  • strained tomato or vegetable juice
  • tea without milk or cream
  • water

You should avoid foods not on this list. For some tests, such as colonoscopies, doctors recommend you avoid clear liquids containing red or purple coloring.

Here’s a one-day sample menu for the clear liquid diet:


  • 1 bowl of gelatin
  • 1 glass pulp-free fruit juice
  • 1 cup coffee or tea without dairy
  • sugar or honey


  • 1 glass pulp-free fruit juice
  • 1 bowl gelatin


  • 1 glass pulp-free fruit juice
  • 1 glass water
  • 1 cup broth
  • 1 bowl gelatin


  • 1 pulp-free popsicle
  • 1 cup of coffee or tea without dairy, or a soda
  • sugar or honey


  • 1 glass pulp-free fruit juice or water
  • 1 cup broth
  • 1 bowl gelatin
  • 1 cup coffee or tea without dairy
  • sugar or honey

The clear liquid diet is easy to follow and can help you prepare for or recover from a medical test, surgery, or other medical procedure.

As a short-term diet, this plan has advantages such as helping you avoid nausea and vomiting and cleaning out your intestines before a medical procedure. In the meantime, you’re also receiving hydration and some of the nutrients you need.

In addition, since you’re only relying on liquids, this diet is relatively cheap.

Being on a clear liquid diet may make you feel tired and hungry because it lacks many calories and nutrients. It can also get boring.

In addition, many foods included in this diet can be high in carbohydrates and sugars, which can be dangerous for people with diabetes. For this reason, people with diabetes need to monitor their blood sugar levels and insulin doses very closely while on this diet.

Some people are at risk of inhaling the clear liquid into their airways, though thickening agents can help reduce the chance of this happening.

As long as the diet is temporary, it shouldn’t be harmful. Long-term, however, it does not provide you with the nutrition you need for optimal health.

What soups can you eat on a clear liquid diet?

When eating soup, stick to clear broth and other clear options.

Can you lose weight on the clear liquid diet?

You might be able to lose some pounds while on the clear liquid diet simply by consuming foods with fewer calories and nutrients, especially if you select higher-protein foods like bone broth. Since the diet is usually temporary, this weight loss is likely also to be temporary and difficult to maintain. Staying on a clear liquid diet for a prolonged period is not a safe way to lose weight.

What Jell-O can I eat on a clear liquid diet?

You can only have plain Jell-O while on the clear liquid diet.

How do you satisfy your hunger on a clear liquid diet?

The best thing to do is to choose the most nutritious options you can eat while on the clear liquid diet. For example, if you want to drink broth, choose bone broth, which is rich in vitamins and nutrients, particularly protein. Another option is to select a premade nutritional drink such as Ensure Clear.

How long should you stay on a clear liquid diet?

The clear liquid diet is extremely low in calories and nutrients, so it shouldn’t be used for more than a few days. Always follow your doctor’s instructions when on this or any other diet plan.

Doctors typically recommend a clear liquid diet before or after medical procedures that involve your digestive system.

This is because liquids are easier to absorb, and the diet can also help clear out the digestive tract before the procedure.

That said, the foods you can eat on the clear liquid diet are only nutritious enough to keep you hydrated and functioning for a very short time. Never follow this diet for longer than the time recommended by your doctor.