The Full Liquid Diet: A Comprehensive Guide for Beginners

When you hear the words “liquid diet”, you might think about water, tea, or broths. A full liquid diet isn’t to be confused with a clear liquid diet. Clear liquid diets only allow people to have clear liquids.

Clear liquid and full liquid diets are types of diets that are typically consumed when ill or before a surgery. A full liquid is similar to a clear liquid diet with some major differences. Liquid diets often get chosen as a “quick, easy” method to drop weight quickly.

Recently, a full liquid diet has become popular due to celebrities advocating for them and the results. Some of these diets are referred to as a cleanse or detox. You might have heard of juice cleanses or the “Master Cleanse”. 

A full liquid diet varies. You may have a diet that replaces one or two meals with liquids, while the rest of your meals and snacks are solid foods. Others may only include low-calorie liquids. If you go with the low-calorie route, it’s important to get all your essential nutrients or you can become sick.

What do you eat on a full liquid diet? Can I start this diet on my own? Is it safe? We answer all your questions and more.

What is the Liquid Diet?

What is the Liquid Diet?

A full liquid diet differs from a clear liquid diet. On a full liquid diet, you can have all foods that are liquid or will turn to a liquid if left at room temperature. Clear liquid diets don’t offer any true nutritional value. Full liquid diets provide you with more nutrition.

On a full liquid diet, you get most of your calories from drinks. Full liquid diets can get recommendations from your doctor for a medical condition or healing after a procedure. You should never start a liquid diet on your own or without supervision. Liquid diets can become dangerous if you do them too long or improperly.

Liquid diets come in various forms. When it comes to a full liquid diet, you can replace many of your meals with liquids and still consume a healthy number of calories. Typically, the calories in liquid drinks range from 800 to 1,500. This will promote rapid weight loss.

According to research, low-calorie diets and low-calorie liquid meal replacements have been shown to be effective in weight loss. One eight-year study in obese participants looked at how liquid diets worked for weight loss and maintenance. The study consisted of the participants consuming 800 calories per day for 12 weeks. After the liquid food program duration, they slowly reintroduced foods back. On average, men lost 57 pounds and women lost 43 in one year.

Along with clear liquids, you can have thicker liquids. You can enjoy milk, fruit juices, smoothies, or homemade shakes. You can have these independently or with soft, strained foods like purees or yogurt. These foods tend to have no fiber, so your body gets a break digesting. To survive on a liquid diet, you’ll need to eat around six to eight meals per day instead of the traditional three times per day. These meals will need to contain high calories to reach daily goals. Those on a lower-calorie liquid diet will consume fewer calories in their meals but will still have around six to eight per day.

A full liquid diet may seem extreme and akin to a starvation diet. The goal isn’t to starve yourself. On cleanses or detoxes, you will try to consume as little as possible in the hopes you lose a dramatic amount of weight in a short period of time. Liquid diets want to provide aqueduct nutrition but in the form of liquids over solid foods.

Try to consume a variety of strained or blended foods. To increase your calorie content, add full-fat dairies like butter or whole milk. Alternatively, you can add high-calorie meal replacement shakes. You may want to add supplements too. in this case, add a liquid multivitamin. Your doctor will be able to tell you which vitamins or supplements you may need if any at all.

When you follow a liquid diet plan as directed, positive results happen quickly. Many liquid diets follow a schedule. The first phase of a program requires all your meals to be liquids. if completing this at a clinic, you’ll maintain a liquid diet for up to 12 weeks. In this time, you’ll have to attend nutritional classes and receive monitoring on your progress and health.

At home, you will have regular check-ins with a doctor to ensure you’re staying healthy. Those that venture on a liquid diet without supervision need to heed caution because it’s very easy to become ill. Should you start this journey without supervision, research as much as you can about how to receive all the nutrients. Follow sample plans that don’t put your body into starvation mode (1,500 calories and lower). Keep in mind that if you’re doing a full liquid diet on your own, you shouldn’t do it long-term. At most, keep it to less than a week.

The second phase of a program will last around six weeks. You’ll factor in one solid foods meal, while the rest are liquids. The idea of one solid meal to replace a liquid is to keep long-term weight loss and maintenance. Over time, you can start to slowly replace liquids and transition back to solids.

At home dieters typically won’t reintroduce solids until the diet ends. You won’t have a transitional period. You can add one to ensure you keep the weight you lost off.

To ensure you reach adequate nutrition, closely follow what’s been recommended to you.

Keep in mind you can’t jump back into your old diet or solid foods right away. You need to slowly reintroduce food because you will have a yo-yo effect. Often, these types of diets don’t lead to long-term weight loss because much of the weight lost is from water and carbohydrates. You also tend to keep old bad habits and don’t make a lifestyle change.

Some people have success with replacing a meal or two with liquids. Those that tend to eat heavy dinners or lunches might benefit from a replacement liquid meal. Overall, many do find this diet difficult because you can eat solid foods or many foods at all. 


Detoxes commonly only consist of liquids. They’re generally short-term and designed to rid toxins. Detoxes claim to provide the body with healthy nutrients, improve circulation, stimulate the liver to remove toxins, and promote the elimination of toxins.

Most detoxes require you to drink fruit and vegetable juices, smoothies, water, teas, or specific liquids. Detoxes are similar to full liquid diets but experience more severe calorie restriction, sometimes require fasting, and an exercise routine.

You may have heard of the 5 Day Juice Cleanse or the Master Cleanse. These detoxes are more dangerous than a liquid diet for various reasons. In the case of the Master Cleanse, you don’t eat anything for ten days. You only consume six to 12 glasses of lemon juice, maple syrup, water, and cayenne pepper. You also need to take a laxative before bed. This cleanse claims you can lose up to 20 pounds. It’s not a doubt you won’t lose weight but it’s completely unhealthy and can cause severe health complications.

Unlike most detoxes, juicing or juice cleanses do have some benefits. The most obvious benefit of a juice cleanse is the addition of fruits and vegetables to your diet. Studies advocate for incorporating fruits and vegetables into our diets and they should make up half of our plates. Some people don’t find fruits or vegetables palatable. Other people find it difficult to include the dietary minimum. Juicing or juice cleanses in addition to a healthy diet can help with that.

However, juice cleanses aren’t healthy for a variety of reasons. One reason is the lack of essential nutrients like B12. Fruits and vegetables don’t contain this vitamin because it’s only found in protein sources. When you juice, you strip the fiber out. Fiber helps you feel full, maintains a healthy gut bacterium, relieves constipation, and stops spiking blood sugars.

Juicing often contains low calories. This can lead to cravings, headaches, fatigue, or dizziness because you aren’t consuming enough calories to sustain yourself. Those with certain health conditions should avoid cleanses and juicing because they create added stress on the body.

Avoid using cleanses at all costs unless directed by a doctor or under the supervision of one. You will lose weight short term. However, it won’t typically last once you start eating solid foods again. 

Clear Liquid Diet

Clear Liquid Diet

Clear liquid diets supply you with energy from the liquids and certain foods that don’t require much digestion. These diets aren’t typical for those trying to lose weight. These diets are usually only for surgery or medical procedures. However, some people have adapted these diets to lose weight quickly. The diet isn’t safe and should only occur when you when a medical issue. 

What do you eat on a clear liquid diet? You can have soup broths, water, coffee, tea, or any clear drinks without any milk or creamers. Jell-O, hard candy, or popsicles. Avoid any red or purple coloring in your drinks.

Can You Lose Weight on a Liquid Diet?

You may have to try a full liquid diet for a variety of reasons. You might have to prepare for a procedure or test, recover from surgery, or have difficulty eating or swallowing. Others may want to try to diet because they heard they can lose weight.

How much weight can be lost on a liquid diet? How much weight can you lose on a liquid diet for 3 days? It depends. Most people only go on a full liquid diet for short periods of time. The amount of weight you lose is dependent on how many liquids you’re consuming and if you’re supplementing with a workout program. Generally, you can lose anywhere from two pounds to four per week. Some cleanses will claim you can lose up to ten or more pounds in a week. This might be true for some individuals but you will have mostly lost water weight, which returns after the diet ends.

Then, will you lose weight if you only drink liquids? Any diet will make you lose weight if you follow it consistently. A diet of full liquids is lower in calories than actual food intake, but it doesn’t mean you’re not getting any nutrition. These diets are carefully constructed by doctors and dieticians to ensure the time you’re on it, you’re getting enough calories and nutrients. If you’re not following it and doing what you want, you’ll definitely lose weight. It won’t come from healthy means and can cause serious damage to your body.

How Long Should You Do a Liquid Diet to Lose Weight?

Full liquid diets are typically followed for a short time. Most people don’t use them for more than five days. In some instances, you may eat a liquid diet for up to two weeks. Full liquid cleanses will only last a few days and usually not longer than one week. If you’re under the care of a doctor, a full liquid diet can last longer. Some people will consume a liquid diet in combination with solid food to stay on the diet longer.

Before you begin a liquid diet, speak with your doctor. They can advise a healthy plan to ensure you don’t become ill on the diet.



The research on liquid only diets have been promising but it’s limited. One potential side effect of a liquid diet is constipation. It’s thought to be because of the low fiber in the diet. Lower-calorie diets might lead to a risk of gallstones. This becomes more prevalent when you have a family history of gallbladder issues.

There are negative side effects to a full liquid diet if you’re not careful. These diets aren’t meant to last more than a few days unless directed by a medical professional. Fruits and vegetables are very healthy and are nutrient-dense. The issue is, they’re low-calorie foods. Low-calorie foods can cause health problems if you don’t consume enough of them daily.

For example, when you don’t eat enough calories, you might feel cold, suffer from headaches, become tired or weak, and start to lose your hair.

Many people talk about the negatives like fatigue, headaches, mood swings, extreme hunger, anger, and sickness. If you follow the diet correctly, it will have positive effects. A study in diabetics found that it had a positive impact on glycemic levels and those who are pre-diabetic. Those who have stomach issues and digestive problems find these diets helpful and improve their well-being.

What You Can Eat

What You Can Eat

You can only have foods that are liquid or turn to liquid at room temperature. These are the following foods and drinks you can have:

  • Water
  • Fruit juices
  • Liquid meal replacements (Boost, Ensure, etc)
  • Soda (clear or ginger ale)
  • Soup broth or strained creams
  • Gelatin
  • Butter, margarine, oil
  • Cream, custard
  • Pudding
  • Tea with cream/milk and sugar or honey
  • Coffee with cream/milk and sugar or honey
  • Ice cream, sherbet, popsicles, frozen yogurt
  • Sugar, honey, syrups

In some cases, cream cereals or oatmeal may be acceptable. Strained meats in baby foods and pureed potatoes in soups might make the cut too.

What to Avoid

What to Avoid

Avoid any food not on the “acceptable” list. Some of these foods include:

  • Raw or cooked veggies
  • Ice creams or desserts that have solids in them
  • Mashed foods (potatoes and avocados)
  • Cheese
  • Fruit (fresh, canned, frozen)
  • Meat
  • Unapproved cereals

The Liquid Diet Sample Menu

The Liquid Diet Sample Menu


One cup of fruit juice, one bowl of Jell-O, one cup of tea or coffee with sugar or honey. Alternatively, you may want to have a smoothie or yogurt.

Recipe for Pineapple Papaya Coconut Lime Smoothie:

½ cup of coconut water, two tablespoons of fresh lime juice, one cup fresh pineapple, one cup papaya chopped, one frozen banana chopped, eight ice cubes.


One bowl of Jell-O and a glass of fruit juice


One cup of fruit juice, a cup of water, a cup of broth, and a bowl of Jell-O.


One bowl of plain ice cream or popsicle, a cup of coffee or tea with honey or sugar.


One cup of broth, a cup of juice or water, one bowl of Jell-O, one cup of coffee or tea with sugar or honey. Alternatively, you can replace the broth with a meal replacement shake.

Side Effects of the Full Liquid Diet

Side Effects of the Full Liquid Diet

Liquid diets should contain the nutrients you need each day, but it’s easy to not reach proper nutrition. These diets contain extremely low calories and can cause dozens of serious health issues. Many nutrients are missed when people consume these diets. Typically, they don’t drink or eat the approved foods as often as they should and end up deprived.

Low consumption of calories can produce negative side effects like fatigue, dizziness, hair loss, gallstones, cold sensations, electrolyte imbalance, and even heart damage. Some people may experience constipation on a full liquid diet because they aren’t consuming much fiber.

Some people forget to mention the diet doesn’t have much wiggle room when it comes to events or restaurants. Unless you go to a vegetarian or vegan place where they can juice or make a smoothie for you, you’ll have a hard time going out. This can lead people to feel stress, anxiety, and loneliness.

A major issue with a liquid diet is they don’t contain much fiber, if at all. When you eat solids, you consume fiber, and it sends signals to your brain and hormones that you’re full. On a liquid diet, this doesn’t occur. Oftentimes, you’re left feeling hungrier than when you started. Some cleanses and detoxes will advise you to take a laxative in tea form before bed and when you wake up. These laxatives help combat the constipation that occurs. However, they can cause health issues. You may experience dehydration or issues with your bowels.

Detoxes and liquid diets often prey on those who want to remove toxins and heal their bodies. Unfortunately, these types of diets can’t eliminate toxins. Full liquid diets can help ease the digestive system and colon if you have health issues that require a break now and then.

Many dieters run into problems with weight gain once they end the liquid diet. People have more success if they choose a liquid diet that’s higher in calories. This will let you slowly lose weight and not deprive yourself. Diets that do require you to eat solid meals once or twice a day with the rest liquids can help solve weight gain. These diets can help teach you healthy eating habits while you lose weight and keep you losing or maintaining long-term.

Liquid diets aren’t for everyone. Typically, a doctor will prescribe one to you if it’s needed. Otherwise, they aren’t recommended for most populations. Pregnant women should avoid these at all costs. Those who have health conditions like diabetes, take blood thinners, or have suppressed immune systems should consult with a doctor first.

Final Thoughts

Final Thoughts

The full liquid diet is often prescribed by doctors. Those that are about to undergo procedures, tests, or obese patients are the common users of the diet. However, in recent years, cleanses, juices, and liquid diets have become a popular way to shed an extra few pounds. Many people that start this diet on their own often find it hard to continue.

You don’t get to eat many solid foods on a liquid diet, if at all. This can cause issues when you want to hang out with friends or attend gatherings. You will have a much harder time if you’re not consuming any solids. In addition to the social disturbances, the diet isn’t high in calories. This can cause a host of health issues if you’re not careful.

The diet itself isn’t recommended unless you truly needed.

Most people that try these types of diets on their own lose weight quickly but end up gaining it back once they return to their normal diet. The weight lost in these types of diets is carbs and water, not fat. The diet isn’t the healthiest either. You eat dangerously low calories, and this can make you sick. If you want to try this diet, speak with a doctor or dietician to ensure you’re getting as much nutrition as possible.

Start working on your weight loss goals

How would you like it if you

✓ Could be less dissatisfied with your body?
✓ Spend less time on your body and be able to do what you really care about?
✓ Learn to deal with that voice in your head?
✓ Stop letting your body image determine your day and emotions?
✓ Really change your relationship with food?
✓ Learn to appreciate your body, which will make you take better care of it?