While a colonoscopy prep clear liquid diet isn’t fun, it is necessary in order to have the best scope possible. Here are some insider tips for staying more satisfied and happy during the ordeal.
I’ve had a bunch of friends getting colonoscopies recently (seriously, it might be colonoscopy season!), and I’ve been getting lots of questions of how to get through everything! So I thought that this might be a timely post for everyone (plus, it has been sitting in my drafts for… almost a year… oops!).
See my original post on clear liquid diet tips, as well as a PSA about why we ALL need to have a colonscopy!
Colonoscopy Prep Clear Liquid Diet
Purpose of Clear Liquid Diet
The purpose of a clear liquid diet the day before and of a colonsocopy isn’t to make you miserable, though I know it feels that way. The purpose is actually to a) continue to leave a clean digestive system for the doctors to examine and b) to make the cleaning out of your digestive system as easy on you as possible.
The reason that you can only have liquids that you can “see through” is because liquids and foods with body actually produce more waste product in the body to then be expelled. Consider the difference in drinking a lot of water vs drinking a lot of milk and the waste product created. Regardless of the fact that milk is a liquid, the proteins and fats still create stool. Water does not have this effect.
Furthermore, water-based liquids and “foods” (think jello, shaved ice, water based popsicles, broth) are more hydrating than foods with other bases, and hydration is key not only for flushing out your system and replenishing the fluid loss due to that flushing. That is why you often have to drink such a volume of prep solution–the solution is only effective if it is accompanied by adequate hydration.
Clear Liquid Diet Rules
- Can have:
- Black Coffee and tea (no added milk)
- Fruit Juices without pulp such as apple, orange, white cranberry
- Strained Broth/Stock (Beef, Chicken, Vegetable)
- PRO TIP: Bone Broth has lots of protein and is a life saver!
- Water, soda, sports drinks, coconut water
- Gummy Bears (they return to water at body temperature!)
- Plain Jello
- Egg whites (yes!! You CAN have egg whites!)
- Off Limits (to keep in mind with what you can have)
- Nothing with milk or non-dairy creamer
- Nothing with red dyes
- Protein Powders and the like
Clear Liquid Diet Nutritional Considerations
If you are anticipating being on a clear liquid diet for longer than just a few days, I personally would recommend a multi-vitamin supplement in addition to your diet due to the limitation of foods and restriction of foods such as fruits and vegetables.
Finally, it will be very tempting with with a clear liquid diet to basically live off of sugar. Resist the temptation! If you restrict yourself to only consuming sugary beverages, your energy levels will spike and plummet, your stomach will hurt, and you will be miserable by the time of your scope. Try to find a balance between sugars (which are indeed necessary during this type of prep), salt, and sources of protein. I mix natural sugars with diet beverages and sources of sugar throughout the day, and I also reach for reduced sodium broths and add my own salt.
Speaking of sources of protein. In my research, collagen peptides should be ok as they dissolve to completely clear. Traditional protein powders such as whey, soy, and pea proteins do not. Bone broth is a good choice for getting in protein on a clear liquid diet because the collagen in the bone broth provides protein that is absent from standard broth. That said, get your collagen in during the morning for sustained energy and also so that your body can process and expel it.
In addition to the solution and water that is prescribed to you, make sure that you continue to consume non-caffeinated liquids throughout the day to stay hydrated. Try to keep sugar, salt, and caffeine in these liquids to a minimum, as your body is processing so much already, and really, you just need the water.
A note on alcohol: while you might very well be aching for a drink, this is not really a good time. Your body will have very little resources to process the alcohol, and the carbohydrates will only add to the waste product you are expelling. Further more, alcohol is dehydrating, and that will be counterproductive. At most, enjoy a 5 oz glass of white wine or 1.5 oz of clear liquor. Drink the next night to celebrate being done!
Clear Liquid Diet Day Example
- 1/2 cup liquid egg whites (scrambled or nuked in microwave) with salt and pepper
- Sugar Free Jello (I like to add a little cinnamon and salt)
- 10-15 Gummy Bears
- Black Coffee (perhaps with a scoop of collagen peptides)
- Glass of water
- 2x Clear Collagen Peptide Shake (8 oz water, 12 g scoop of collagen peptides, 1/2 TBSP cocoa powder, dash of cinnamon, dash salt, desired amount of liquid stevia or other clear liquid or powder sweetener, desired amount of ice)
- Glass of water
- 16 ounces reduced sodium chicken/beef bone broth simmered with a dash of cayenne (for heat) or paprika, a dash of pepper and garlic powder, salt
- Ginger ale (diet or regular)
- Jello if desired
**Generally, you will start the prep in the early afternoon**
First Prep (you will be prescribed one of the following)
- 32 oz Lower Sugar Gatorade + 7.5 servings of Miralax
- 1 bottle/dose of SuPrep/Go Lightly/ MoviPrep Etc (mix with non-red or purple drink mix and refrigerate) + 32 oz water to be consumed over the next hour
- Pro tip: use flavors that you don’t generally reach for, like peach or lime, because by the end of the prep, you won’t want anything to do with them ever again!
- Refrigerate the prep solution and drink through a straw. This will help you drink it faster.
**Even when you start going to the bathroom, be sure to continue to eat and drink! You need to stay hydrated and keep your energy levels up!**
Mid Afternoon (pick a few over a few hours)
- Gummy Bears (take out the red ones!)
- Undyed/not red or purple hard candies (make sure that they are not milk based)
- Non red or purple Endurance/Energy Gel (can get at sporting goods stores or at grocery stores)
- Hot Tea, decaf coffee or water
- 16-32 oz of Strained soup or seasoned reduced sodium bone broth
- Water or low sugar Gatorade
- Gummy bears
- Jello with cinnamon + salt
Middle of the Night
- Final round of prep (see previous)
- After this round of prep, stop consuming anything by mouth until after your procedure.
After the Procedure
It may be tempting to go nuts and eat #allthethings following your colonoscopy, but take it slowly and have a medium sized meal first. I like to have an omelet with some veggies and avocado, a little bit of fruit, and multigrain toast following my procedure. This gives me all of the good stuff that I need nutrient-wise without overloading my system. A few hours later, I will start to expand my repetoire of foods, but first I want to make sure that my digestive system is in proper working order!
Final Colonoscopy Prep Notes
**If you are doing the prep and not having any results within a few hours, you may want to call your office. You need to being having clear bowel movements by the time of the procedure to have a clean scope. Don’t waste your time or theirs having them do a scope only to get in there and not be able to see anything! **
Colonoscopy prep is a real pain in the rear end, and, trust me, your doctors know this. They don’t like putting you through it any more than you like doing it! But if you can nail your prep so that they can get a clean scope, hopefully it will be many years before you have to go through it all again.
Good luck, and let me know if you have any questions!