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A full liquid diet allows all forms of liquids but no solid foods.
Your doctor may prescribe the diet as part of a treatment or after a medical procedure like surgery.
This article explains everything you need to know about a full liquid diet, including what the diet allows, its benefits and downsides, and provides a sample full liquid diet menu.
What the full liquid diet allows
Things you can have on a full liquid diet include:
- Grains: cream of wheat, cream of rice, and grits
- Fruits: juices without pulp
- Vegetables: vegetable juice without pulp
- Soups: bouillon, broths, and strained soups
- Desserts: pudding, custard, gelatin, ice cream, sherbet, and popsicles
- Beverages: tea, coffee, milk, and plant-based dairy alternatives such as soy, rice, or almond milk
- Supplement beverages: Ensure, Boost, Carnation Instant Breakfast, and Glucerna
The diet can provide most of the nutrients your body needs when planned carefully, but it may not provide enough protein, vitamins, and minerals.
For this reason, you may need to include protein drinks like Ensure or Boost, which are fortified with vitamins and minerals.
Because the diet restricts fiber-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, a full liquid diet also contains little to no fiber.
Why it’s recommended?
A full liquid diet is a middle step between a clear liquid diet and a regular or solid food diet.
Many doctors prescribe the diet as a transition step after surgery involving the stomach or intestines, especially gastric bypass and other weight-loss surgeries (4).
The diet is not meant for someone with chewing or swallowing difficulties, also known as dysphagia.
A speech-language pathologist can determine the appropriate diet for someone with dysphagia to promote safe and efficient chewing and swallowing.
One-day sample full liquid diet menu
Here is a one-day sample full liquid diet menu that includes high protein supplements:
- 1 cup (168 grams) cream of wheat
- 1 cup (240 mL) of milk
- 1/2 cup (120 mL) orange juice
- 1 cup (240 mL) of coffee
- 1 cup (240 mL) apple juice
- 1 cup (240 mL) tomato soup
- 1/2 cup vanilla pudding
- 1 cup (240 mL) tea
- 1 cup (240 mL) milk
- 1 cup (240 mL) strained, blended cream of broccoli soup
- 1/4 cup (42 grams) custard
- 1 scoop (30 grams) of Optimum Nutrition chocolate whey protein powder
- 1 cup (240 mL) milk
Does it work for weight loss?
Like a clear liquid diet, a full liquid diet can likely help you lose weight, but that’s not the diet’s intended purpose.
A full liquid diet can contain 1,500 or more calories with the inclusion of high protein drinks (1).
This calorie level can be low enough to cause weight loss for most people.
However, the diet can still be nutritionally inadequate and due to its restrive nature, difficult to follow, even in the short term.
Because the diet can lack nutrients that keep you full such as protein and fiber and consists of foods that require no chewing, the full liquid diet may increase your hunger, making it difficult to lose weight.
For these reasons, the diet is not recommended for healthy, sustainable weight loss.
If your goal is to lose weight, reduce your daily calories by 500—750 by reducing your portion sizes or limiting high-calorie foods, especially sugary and fatty foods.
The bottom line
A full liquid diet allows liquids of any kind but no solid foods.
The diet is commonly prescribed as a transition step before advancing you to solid foods after surgery.
Carefully planned, the diet can be nutritionally adequate but it lacks fiber and is not meant for weight loss.