Fact sheetDiet specifications

Published: August 2019. Next review: 2024.

Fluid diet - clear

This document is part of the ACI Diet Specifications for Adult Inpatients. It is not to be used for patient education.


To provide clear fluids to replace or maintain the body’s water balance and leave minimum residue in the intestinal tract.


Only fluids or foods that liquefy at room temperature and that are transparent in appearance. All liquids containing fat are excluded.


Where appropriate, clinicians may consider ordering this diet for patients:

  • following gastrointestinal surgery, as a first step in oral rehydration
  • to reduce the amount of residue in the colon, as preparation for bowel surgery or barium enema
  • severe nausea, vomiting or acute diarrhoea.

Nutritional adequacy

This diet is inadequate in all nutrients and should not be used as the sole source of nutritional support for more than three days, unless appropriate nutrition supplements are used.


Patients may not receive a menu. If this diet is to be used in preparation for a gastrointestinal procedure, confirm local protocol. Commercial clear nutritional supplements may include whey protein as an ingredient. Commercial thickening agents are a source of fibre.


Suitable for use in paediatrics when combined with an age-appropriate diet.

Specific menu planning guidelines

Allowed Not allowed
Hot main dishesNone-
Sauces, graviesNone -
Starchy vegetables / pasta / riceNone -
SoupsFat-free, clear soup and brothsCream soup or soup with visible food pieces
Salads, dressingsNone-
Breads, cerealsNone -
Hot breakfast choicesNone -
DessertsPlain jelly, sorbetAll others
Milk and cheeseNone -

Water, apple juice, other pulp-free fruit juice, cordial, soft drink

Black tea and coffee

All other

Prune juice


Plain boiled sweets, gums and jubes

Commercial rehydration fluids Ice-blocks

Commercial clear fat-free, fibre-free, liquid nutritional supplements

Commercial clear fat-free, liquid thickened fluids

Sugar, salt, sweetener

Cream, pepper

All other commercial supplements

All other commercial thickened fluids


  1. Dietitians Association of Australia. Nutrition manual. 9th ed. Canberra: DAA; 2014.
  2. Belsey J, Epstein O, Heresbach D. Systematic review: oral bowel preparation for colonoscopy. Aliment Pharmacol Ther 2007;25:373-84.
  3. American Society of Anesthesiologists Task Force on Preoperative Fasting. Practice guidelines for preoperative fasting and the use of pharmacologic agents to reduce the risk of pulmonary aspiration: application to healthy patients undergoing elective procedures. Anesthesiol 1999;90:896-905.
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