An Easy Guide to Use Liquid Diets for Weight Loss

We have all contemplated trying out a liquid diet for weight loss at some point in time in our lives. Here is your quick guide to understanding how liquid diets may help your weight loss journey.

Dr. Allen Conrad
Reviewed by DR. ALLEN CONRAD , Chiropractor | Written by Sanchari Bhattacharya , Health & Fitness Expert
Updated on Jan 10, 2024 | 11:40 AM IST | 387.4K
Liquid Diets for Weight Loss
Liquid Diets for Weight Loss

Some of us have contemplated trying a liquid diet for weight loss at some point in our lives. Well, while it sounds challenging for the food lover in you, let’s break it down to make it easier. For starters, know that it's always better to consult a doctor before you go on a liquid diet. Make sure you are trying the diet under supervision of a professional for the most effective and safe results. There are different kinds of liquid diets for weight loss. Where some replace certain meals with liquids, others may ask you to completely swap solid food with liquid meals. “Never replace the recommendations for a liquid diet, or the person will not know the consequences,” says Dr. Allen Conrad, a renowned chiropractor and owner of the Montgomery County Chiropractic Center.

These diets are essentially low calories diets that require you to sustain on juices, broths or smoothies. The duration may also vary depending on your health and nutrition and recommendation from your doctor.  “Most people try a liquid diet for no longer than a week. Consult your doctor before trying outside of recommended parameters,” continues Conrad. They are suggested as quick means to shed weight and have been talked about in various contexts, especially by actors and actresses when trying to look slim and trim for their new roles. But, are they really the answer for your weight loss? Let's find out.

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What Is A Liquid Diet?

What Is A Liquid Diet

As it is in the name, a diet that consists majorly of liquids as a source of your nutrition is what a liquid diet consists of. It replaces your meals consisting of solid food with liquids like smoothies, juices, homemade or store bought protein shakes. If you are trying a clear liquid diet, that would include clear liquids at room temperature  example, fruit juices without pulp, tea, coffee, carbonated drinks or clear broths (1). The liquids you consume are meant to give you the required calories and nutrition. You can either go on a full liquid diet or replace one or two solid food meals with a liquid meal. This is done to cut down your calorie intake and boost weight loss in a short period. A liquid diet to lose weight may sound like a go to option. However, it isn’t recommended to stay on this diet for too long. You need to make sure you get enough nutrients, vitamins, fiber and protein while on these diets. 

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Do Liquid Diet Help in Weight Loss?

Liquid diets essentially help with portion and calorie control. Given that you are not consuming any solid food, it naturally reduces calorie intake leading to weight loss. These diets may be a part of the larger weight loss program as they are prescribed only for a duration of a few days or weeks.  Liquid diets may have up to 500  - 1500 calories on a daily basis (2).  As the calorie intake is lower, the body uses up stored fat as it is the only fuel resource. The fat is used to generate energy, thus helping you lose weight. These diets may be preferred not just because they help lose weight but also because they are quick, save time, and are great to detox your body and improve digestion (3). Research has shown that using a low calorie liquid diet and then reintroducing solid food after a few days works effectively for weight loss in obese individuals (4). Liquid diets hence may be beneficial for fat as well as weight loss. Studies have also shown that a liquid diet may be better compared to just low calorie solid food diets for weight loss (5). It’s important to note that people going on liquid diets are under close observation and supervision of medical professionals. Liquid diets may not be sustainable and hence are generally practiced for short durations. They may also lack the necessary nutrients, vitamins, fiber, and protein which the body requires and are found in fruits and vegetables (6).

Types of Liquid Diets For Weight Loss

Going on a complete liquid diet may sound daunting for the first time. It doesn’t necessarily sound fun either. But fret not! If you are not comfortable diving into a full liquid diet there are different options for you. However, it is best to consult a dietician before you choose a liquid diet of your choice. Here are some options for you to consider. 

1. Detox / Cleansing Diet

Liquid Diets for Weight Loss

Detox diets have become quite popular in recent times. These diets focus on detoxifying your body and giving you a refreshing cleanse. It may include consuming certain juice with herbs and water only for a week in the month. The effects of this diet may show when practiced for at least a few months. The juices recommended are said to remove toxic substances from your body (7). An example of the cleansing liquid diet is the Master Cleanse Diet which is also known as the Lemonade Diet. 

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2. Meal Replacement Liquid Diet 

This kind of a liquid diet includes replacing a solid food meal with liquids like shakes which are low in calories. These shakes or juices are consumed in place of your breakfast or lunch and can contain all the nutrients you require like carbs, proteins, vitamins, and minerals (8). Certain liquid meal replacements may have a high content of protein and low fat content, making them helpful. They may help in curbing hunger pangs and managing your appetite. There is some research supporting the idea that liquid meals could be as statiating as solid meals (9). There are lots of products that are available in the market; speaking to your dietician may help you make an informed decision. 

3. Medical Liquid Diets

There may be certain liquid diets like a clear liquid or full liquid diet that may be prescribed by doctors for certain health reasons. As the name suggests, a clear liquid diet consists of only consuming liquids that are clear like apple juice, water, tea or broth. These may be prescribed prior to a surgery for patients or if there are any digestive issues.  Full liquid diets are also prescribed for similar reasons however may include all kinds of beverages at room temperature and even some shakes (10). These are not meant for the long term and are only limited to patients with specific health concerns. 

Best Liquid Diet Chart for Weight Loss 

We know that coming up with liquid diet ideas can be challenging. So here are some diet chart options but you can make your own by consulting a dietician. Each person may require different things for their optimal health and functioning, hence work with a professional for the best results. 

Detox / Cleansing diet

  • Early Morning - (6.00 am 1 cup water with lime juice (½ a lime) 
  • Breakfast - (7.00 am) Mint smoothie with pomegranate, melon seed powder and orange
  • Brunch - (10.00 am) Apple juice / fruit flavored water
  • Lunch -  (12.30 pm) 1 cup chicken broth with cucumber soup
  • Post Lunch - (3.30 pm) Buttermilk / Green tea
  • Dinner - (7. 00 pm) Mushroom soup

Meal replacement liquid diet chart

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  • Early Morning (6.00 am - 1 cup water with lime juice (½ a lime) 
  • Breakfast (7.00 am)  -    Low calorie smoothie/ Oatmeal, almond, berries and milk smoothie / Frozen yogurt morning shake
  • Brunch (10.00 am) -  Green tea / Herbal tea and eggnog / mixed fruits with yogurt
  • Lunch  (12.30 pm) -  Lentil soup /mushroom soup with pulpy vegetable soup 1 glass
  • Post Lunch (3.30 pm) -      Buttermilk
  • Dinner (7. 00 pm) - Preferred broth (vegetable/meat) along with fish/chicken or  low calorie shake

Starting off with these diets can be quite challenging mentally and physically as we may not be accustomed to it. But we adapt and soon get accustomed to it. Make sure it is a supervised and well prepared decision to try these diets.  You may also want to avoid any rigorous exercise on the first day when you start a liquid diet as you may already be feeling exhausted. You can still go for a walk or do some yoga. 

Health Benefits of Liquid Diet

Health Benefits of Liquid Diet

1. Weight Loss 

One of the leading reasons why people may turn to the liquid diet is for weight loss. Liquid diets are watery and consist of low calories which help to reduce fat in the body, leading to weight loss. They increase your water intake while reducing your calorie intake and help you shed those extra pounds. It has been found in various studies that these diets include about 500 calories and are hence effective compared to low calorie solid food diets (5). 

2. Detoxify the Body 

Liquid diets flush out the toxins from your body leaving you feeling lighter and refreshed. The diets include juices; fresh vegetable and fruit smoothies; broths which are rich in vitamins; minerals and dietary fibers. Animal studies have found that juices rich in antioxidants could prevent oxidative damage (11). The dietary fibers help in boosting gastrointestinal health and improving digestive functions. Both of these play a major role in weight loss (12).

3. Easy to Digest

The liquids and vegetable and fruit juices are light and easy to digest. The process of digestion, absorption and excretion is improved by consuming these foods. At the same time, including the pulp from juices and vegetables can keep you satiated for a long time. One such research also found that liquid meal replacement consisted of more dietary fiber compared to solid meal replacement (13).

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4. Easy and Convenient

While your traditional meals may require time, practice and patience to master, liquid diets are quite easy to follow. You simply need to toss all your ingredients into a blender and your meal is ready. If you are someone who skips meals or ends up ordering unhealthy food, this can be the easiest way out. Starving or eating junk is counterintuitive. 

Foods You Can Eat When You are on A Liquid Diet

Well, if you think that your options are limited when on a liquid diet, this may not be entirely true. A liquid diet weight loss program has certain restrictions but still aims to give you everything your body needs. There are a wide range of options that you can still have when on your liquid diet.  However, if you are on a detox diet, avoid all forms of solid food. You can consume them instead in a smoothie or juice form.  If you are on a meal replacement diet, make sure you replace at least two meals with a liquid form. You can have solids in your other meals. Here are some foods that you can consume. 

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Low calorie frozen yogurt and yogurt
  • Milk - almond/soy/full fat milk
  • Eggs - scrambled/boiled/ egg nogs
  • Water
  • Popsicles
  • Tea / coffee
  • Ice creams
  • Energy drinks / sports drinks
  • Cold pressed juices
  • Flavored water
  • Honey
  • Broth 
  • Sorbets
  • Herbs
  • Creamed soup 
  • Lean meat - fish / lentils / tofu / soy
  • Smoothies
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Protein shakes

 

Side- Effects of Liquid Diet for Weight Loss

When transitioning to a liquid diet, your body may feel discomfort in the initial phases. Ideally, your diet plan must give you a healthy balance of vitamins and nutrients that you require to get through the day.  However, this may not always happen. Generally, diets that replace one or two meals in the day with shakes are safe in the long run (4), (5). Replacing only certain meals with liquids may be more helpful for you to still get the nutrition that your body requires from solid foods. 

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Purely liquid diets may actually be low on fiber, which can lead to constipation (14). Fiber is also important for blood sugar management and hence may increase craving as well. Further, the duration of these diets may also be important to understand the effects. They are not recommended in the long run as they can cause deficiencies and a loss of energy along with that.  It may be essential to consult a doctor and maintain a healthy diet overall, to avoid the side effects while reaching your goal.

Side- Effects of Liquid Diet for Weight Loss

Conclusion: 

A liquid diet for weight loss essentially may be a short term method to lose weight as it reduces your calorie intake. You may substitute all or some meals in your day with a liquid meal like broths, shakes, smoothies or juices depending on the recommendations by your doctor/dietician. While a liquid diet may aid your weight loss journey, this may only be a part of the long term weight loss program. Liquid diets may be used only for a few weeks in order to facilitate weight loss. They aren’t beneficial for the long term as it can lead to deficiencies and muscle loss.  Irrespective, it may be a great way to detoxify and cleanse your body while shedding the excess fat. Remember that each person may have different dietary requirements and it is advised to consult medical professionals before going on a liquid diet.

Contributor: Kelsey Costa, MS, RDN, and Owner of Nutrition Insights LLC

Sources:

  1. Clear Liquid Diet - StatPearls - NCBI Bookshelf (nih.gov)
  2. Efficacy of commercial weight loss programs: an updated systematic review - PMC (nih.gov)
  3. Detox diets for toxin elimination and weight management: a critical review of the evidence - PubMed (nih.gov)
  4. Multicenter evaluation of an interdisciplinary 52-week weight loss program for obesity with regard to body weight, comorbidities and quality of life—a prospective study - PMC (nih.gov)
  5. Weight loss and dropout during a commercial weight-loss program including a very-low-calorie diet, a low-calorie diet, or restricted normal food: observational cohort study - PubMed (nih.gov)
  6. Health benefits of fruits and vegetables - PubMed (nih.gov)
  7. Detox diets for toxin elimination and weight management: a critical review of the evidence - PubMed (nih.gov)
  8. Weight management using a meal replacement strategy: meta and pooling analysis from six studies | International Journal of Obesity (nature.com)
  9. Effects of Solid versus Liquid Meal-replacement Products of Similar Energy Content on Hunger, Satiety, and Appetite-regulating Hormones in Older Adults - PMC (nih.gov)
  10. Full liquid diet: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia
  11. Vegetable and fruit juice enhances antioxidant capacity and regulates antioxidant gene expression in rat liver, brain and colon - PMC (nih.gov)
  12. Dietary fiber and prebiotics and the gastrointestinal microbiota - PMC (nih.gov)
  13. Effects of Solid versus Liquid Meal-replacement Products of Similar Energy Content on Hunger, Satiety, and Appetite-regulating Hormones in Older Adults - PMC (nih.gov)
  14. Effect of dietary fiber on constipation: a meta analysis - PubMed (nih.gov)

FAQs

Can you lose weight with a liquid diet?
Yes, a liquid diet can help lose weight when followed with guidance from a medical professional. The diet essentially reduces your calorie intake which in turn requires your body to use up pre-stored fat in the body to produce energy.

How much weight can you lose in a 3 day liquid diet?
The amount of weight you lose may be heavily dependent on your body time and health conditions. You may be able to lose somewhere between 5 - 10 pounds by trying a 3 day liquid diet.

Will I lose weight on a 2 week liquid diet?
Before trying a two week liquid diet, it may be important to consult your doctor. This may help you lose weight in the short term, but may not be a sustainable plan to lose weight.

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About The Author
Sanchari Bhattacharya
Sanchari Bhattacharya
Health & Fitness Expert

Sanchari, a certified Health & Nutrition Life Coach

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