Liquid Diet (Including High Calorie Tips)

Liquid Diet (Including High Calorie Tips)


Your doctor and/or Registered Dietitian may recommend that you follow a liquid diet if you have trouble chewing or swallowing, if your stomach does not empty normally, if you have recently had a surgery, or for some other reason. Getting the nutrition you need every day can be a challenge on a liquid diet. The purpose of this handout is to help you continue to get the calories, protein, vitamins, and minerals that you need for healing and/or overall health while you are not eating solid foods.

The good news is that any food may be eaten as long as it is liquefied, thinned, or blended with a blender (“blenderized”) and strained. The consistency should be thin enough to be sucked through a straw (even if you don’t use a straw). 


Blenderized Food


You can add enough liquid to any food to achieve a pourable consistency. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Use commercial soups as a base and add canned or frozen vegetables, meats, and cooked grains such as rice; blenderize.
  • For fewer calories, use water, broth, vegetable juice, and skim milk for blending.
  • For more calories, use whole milk, cream, gravies, fruit juices, and even commercial nutritional supplements such as Ensure, Boost, or equivalent. See next section for more tips.
  • If you do not have a blender, strained baby foods will work and can be thinned down as needed with milk, soy or rice milk, water, broth, etc. 
  • Foods should be free of chunks. Use a strainer if necessary.
  • Always clean the blender well using warm water and soap, including all parts. Any food left in the blender for more than 1-2 hours could cause food-borne illness.



How to make this food…

…into a tasty liquid

Meats, fish, poultry

Blend with broths, water, milk, vegetable or V-8® juice, tomato sauce, gravies.


Blend with water, tomato juice, broths, cream. Try using strained baby vegetables.

Starches such as potatoes, pasta, rice

Blend with soups, broth, milk, water, gravies.

Add strained baby meats for extra protein if needed. 


Blend with their own juices, other fruit juices, water, strained baby fruits


Make hot cereals with extra liquid, or blend cold cereals with milk.

Instead of water, make with caloric beverages such as whole milk, kefir, soy or rice milk, juice, or liquid nutritional supplements (such as Ensure®, Boost®, or an equivalent). 

Add sugars, honey, molasses, syrups, or butter for extra calories.

Consider using hot cereals such as cream of wheat or rice, oatmeal, or grits as your starch at lunch and dinner.

Mixed dishes like casseroles, chili, lasagna, mac and cheese, spaghetti

Add adequate liquid of your choice, blend well, and strain. 


Getting Enough Calories and Protein

A liquid diet is tough, and sometimes it can be hard to meet your needs, especially if you have been on the diet for a while. Here are some tips to help:

  • High calorie drinks are better than water because they provide calories and fluid; use peach, pear, or papaya nectars, fruit juice, Hawaiian Punch®, Hi C®, lemonade, and/or Kool-Aid®.
  • Fortify milk with extra protein by adding dry milk powder. Add 1 cup of powder to 1 quart of milk.
  • Use whole milk, evaporated milk, or condensed milk (if tolerated) instead of skim or 2% for drinking and preparing “cream type” soups, custards, puddings, and milkshakes.
  • Add instant breakfast, protein powder, nut butter, dry milk powder, other flavored powders, or syrups like chocolate or caramel to whole milk, juices, smoothies, or shakes.
  • Try adding nut butter, ice cream, sherbet, or sorbet to ready-made supplements such as Nutra-shakes®, Ensure®, or Boost®. Add oils, melted butter, or mayonnaise to savory liquids.
  • Eggnog, available around the holidays, is a great source of calories!



Examples of Ready-Made Supplements


Milk-Based Products

Lactose-Free Products

Instant Breakfast®

Ensure®/Ensure® Plus 


Boost®/Boost® Plus         


Boost® or Ensure® Puddings

Egg Nog

Generic brand supplements

(Equate, CVS, Kroger, etc)

Kefir (fermented milk drink, very low in lactose)

Ensure® Clear (juice-like)

Boost® Breeze (juice-like)



High Protein and Calorie Shakes


The blender is your friend! Get creative with high calorie shakes and smoothies. Here

are a few recipes to get your started. Calorie and protein amounts are listed per




Milk-Based Shakes

You can substitute any of the following in place of milk: liquid nutritional supplements, soy milk, silken tofu, Lactaid® milk, or non-dairy creamers.



1 quart low fat milk

1 cup nonfat dried milk powder


Blenderize ingredients until powdered milk dissolves. Refrigerate.



2 cups vanilla yogurt

6 oz key lime yogurt

2 ripe bananas

1/3 cup milk (or substitute)   


Put all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth.  Makes 2 servings.

360 calories, 12 gm protein





¾ cup milk (or substitute)

1 cup ice cream


Put all ingredients into a blender, cover, 

and blend until smooth. 

360 calories, 10 gm protein.


Flavoring ideas:

  • 1 to 2 Tbsp chocolate, strawberry, or caramel syrup
  • ½ mashed banana  
  • ¼ to ½ cup fresh or frozen strawberries
  • 1 to 2 Tbsp peanut butter
  • 2-4 crumbled chocolate sandwich cookies



1, 8 oz can Ensure® Plus/Boost® Plus or equivalent

1 cup whole milk

½ cup ice cream


Put all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth.  Makes 2 servings.

370 calories, 14g protein



1 envelope chocolate Instant Breakfast®

8 oz milk

1 tsp chocolate syrup


Heat milk and add Instant Breakfast and syrup. Stir well to blend. Top with marshmallows.



(not sweet)


1 cup milk (or substitute)        

2 bananas                   

1 carton (8 oz.) strawberry yogurt 

1 Tbsp lemon juice


Combine all ingredients in blender.  Makes 2 servings. 275 calories, 9 gm protein


¾ cup milk (or substitute)        

1 cup sherbet, any flavor


Put ingredients into blender, cover, and blend until smooth.

360 calories, 8 gm protein



2 tsp of instant coffee, mixed in 1 TBSP water

1 cup milk (or substitute)

1 pack of chocolate or vanilla Instant Breakfast


Blend all ingredients together








½ cup milk (or substitute)        

1 package Instant Breakfast®

¼ cup egg substitute       

½ cup ice cream


Put all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth.

470 calories, 22 gm protein 




½ cup milk (or substitute)        

1 banana

2½ Tbsp peanut butter

1 cup vanilla ice cream


Place milk in blender container.  Add banana, peanut butter, and ice cream.  Cover; blend on high for one minute or until thick and smooth.  Makes 2 servings. 330 calories, 10 gm protein




½ cup milk (or substitute)                    

1 Tbsp malted milk powder

½ cup half and half                 

1 package instant breakfast

2 cups ice cream                    

2 Tbsp Ovaltine®


Put all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth.  Makes 2 servings.




(not sweet)

6 to 7 strawberries           ½ cup cold milk

½ cup cottage cheese      Honey to taste


Combine all ingredients in blender until smooth.  270 calories, 18 gm protein


Hint: Use frozen strawberries for a thicker shake.


Yogurt and Nondairy Shakes

Try using Greek yogurt for extra protein, or full-fat yogurt for extra calories.



¾ cup vanilla or plain yogurt

¾ cup orange juice

1 pack vanilla Instant Breakfast®


Add all ingredients to the blender, cover, and blend until smooth.




6 oz can frozen fruit juice

4 Tbsp sugar

3 cups crushed ice


Combine all ingredients in blender and mix until slushy.



6 oz. can frozen concentrated orange juice                    

¼ cup cold water

1 cup ice cubes

1 carton (8 oz.) plain yogurt


Combine all ingredients except ice cubes in blender and blend until frothy.  With mixture still running, drop in ice cubes one at a time. 

Makes 2 servings.

240 calories, 8 gm protein



8 oz Boost® Breeze/Ensure® Clear or equivalent

½ cup sherbet

6 oz ginger-ale


Add  Boost® Breeze/Ensure® Clear and sherbet to the blender, cover, and blend until smooth. Gently stir in ginger-ale.



¾ cup pineapple juice (or other juices)

¼ cup egg substitute (optional)

1-½ cups vanilla ice cream


Add all ingredients to the blender, cover, and blend until smooth.

630 calories, 13 gm protein



1 banana

½ cup frozen mango chunks

½ ripe avocado

1 cup baby spinach

1¼ soy or almond milk

½ tsp vanilla


Add all ingredients to the blender, cover, and blend until smooth.

Makes 1 serving.

485 calories, 11 g protein






Add whole milk, evaporated milk, or heavy cream for extra calories




10oz can of any cream soup    4 oz heavy cream

6 oz whole milk                        4 Tbsp non-fat dry milk powder


Strain soup before serving.

Makes 2 servings.  Provides 280 calories and 9 gm protein per serving.