Surviving An All-Liquid Diet


     Life can definitely throw you some unexpected curve balls.  Instead of feeling down or wondering why certain things happened to you, take on the unexpected as a new challenge.  Embrace the difficult because you know that it will make you stronger.  You will get through it and be fine in the end, but instead of just surviving through it, use it as an opportunity for growth.  

     About a month ago, I was thrown an unexpected curve ball.  I tripped and fell and slammed my jaw into concrete, breaking it on both sides.  I had to have my jaw wired shut for a full month!  I knew that I was about to be facing a lot of new challenges.  Would I be able to talk?  How was I going to survive on an all-liquid diet?  Would I be able to work out?  Am I going to lose all of the progress that I’ve made on my physique over the past year?  I decided to write this article for anyone who:

  • Is interested in an all-liquid diet for weight loss
  • Has struggled through unexpected setbacks
  • Wants to maintain a healthy diet with a broken jaw

The First Week


     Usually when you’re weight training, taking a test, or doing anything challenging, you start easy and build up to the most challenging part at the end.  However, when your jaw is wired shut and you are forced to go on an all liquid diet, the most challenging part comes right at the beginning.  The first week will definitely be the most challenging week of the entire process.  

     My advice during this first week is to just focus on the basics.  Don’t worry about trying to go to the gym.  You aren’t going to lose any muscle or get out of shape in a week, so don’t even worry about that right now.  Just make sure that you are able to get some nutrients in your body, plenty of rest, and let your body start to recover.  Don’t worry about your macros, nutrient intake, etc.  As a matter of fact, you’re probably going to go through periods of depression and anger, so I’d suggest having some ice cream and any other indulgences that you can blend up that will help you to feel better.  One of the best things I had during the first week was a slice of red velvet cake blended with vanilla ice cream and a splash of milk.  It helps boost your mood, and you’ll definitely need that during the first week.

     If you’re only going on a liquid diet for weight loss and didn’t break your jaw, then you’ll have more time to plan your nutrition out and you won’t need a full week to focus on the basics.  However, what you will notice in the first week is that you are hungry more often on an all-liquid diet even if you are consuming nearly the same number of calories.  That’s because your body can absorb and digest liquids much faster than solids, so your body is going to be able to process everything that you drink much quicker.  Make sure that you are incorporating as much slower digesting carbs and proteins into your diet as possible, like casein protein and oats blended up.


Maintaining Your Nutrition

     Once you’ve managed to get the basics down and your body has started to recover, you’ll have some strength to start thinking about your nutrition.  Many of the websites that I found online relating to all-liquid diets emphasize getting in as many calories as possible by doing things like adding heavy cream to soups, ice cream to shakes, etc.  This is an area where I knew I could do better and took on the challenge of maintaining a healthy all-liquid diet.  Incorporating heavy cream and ice cream added a lot of fat to my diet and canned soups are extremely high in sodium.  In addition, I wasn’t getting nearly enough protein or carbs following that advice.

     I decided to take what I knew about nutrition and meal planning and create my own liquid meals that had adequate amounts of protein, carbs, fat, fiber, and nutrients.  I decided to make my own soups to control the amount of sodium.  You can make a huge pot of soup that will last you several days.  I incorporated lots of casein protein into my shakes to increase my protein intake.  Here’s how I incorporated each of my macros into my diet:

  • Protein - As I mentioned earlier, casein protein powder was a big help in keeping my protein intake high to avoid muscle loss.  Casein protein is slower digesting than whey protein, so it helps you feel full longer than whey.  I made a smoothie each morning with casein protein and another at night if I was still low on my protein goals.  I also found that most meats blend pretty well if you add enough liquid, so I was able to add cooked chicken and lean ground beef to my soups and blend them up.  Ground beef is the hardest to grind up fine enough to fit through a straw, but it can be done!  It’s also great when you are craving a burger or steak to incorporate some ground beef into your soup and blend it up with some low sodium stock or tomato sauce.
  • Carbs - Carbs can also be a challenge since most carbs don’t blend well.  Things like breads and pastas don’t really work in the blender, so you have to get a little more creative.  I incorporated a lot of veggies into my soups to help increase my carb intake since they blend easily when cooked.  Rice also blends well in soups.  I stayed away from weight gainer protein powders because they had too many carbs for me and they were mostly simple carbs and sugars.  I added cooked oatmeal to my smoothies in the morning to get in some fiber and complex carbs.
  • Fat - Fats are the easiest thing to incorporate into an all-liquid diet.  Milk, ice cream, or heavy cream will all increase the fat content of soups or smoothies.  I also decided to add peanut butter to my smoothies to try and get more unsaturated (healthy) fats into my diet.  You can also add flaxseed oil or avocado to get more unsaturated fats in your soups and smoothies.
  • Fiber - When you have a major change in your diet, you want to make sure that your fiber intake remains normal.  In addition to oatmeal, I added a powdered fiber supplement to my smoothies to make sure I was getting enough fiber each day.
  • Vitamins/Nutrients - Another challenge on an all liquid diet is making sure that you are getting all of the vitamins and micronutrients that your body needs to function properly.  I found that the easiest way to do this was to blend up a multivitamin into my morning smoothies.  I also bought a powdered greens supplement that I took every day to ensure that I was getting the phytonutrients that my body needed.  Most leafy greens don’t blend well so I would strongly suggest adding a powdered greens supplement to your all-liquid diet to make sure you aren’t missing the important minerals and nutrients found in those leafy greens.

Getting Back In The Gym


     It may not be immediately obvious, but having your jaw wired shut will also affect your performance in the gym.  If you lift heavy weights or do any moderately intense cardio, then you’ll probably notice that you’re taking a lot of deep breaths through your mouth as the intensity increases.  When your jaw is wired shut, you can’t really take as many deep breaths as you could when you can open your mouth.  Unless you want to pass out from lack of oxygen, you’re going to have to lower the intensity of your workouts so that you can catch your breath while mostly breathing through your nose.  I found that I wasn’t able to lift nearly as much weight while breathing through my nose.  I also had to lower the intensity of my cardio sessions to avoid hyperventilating from not being able to catch my breath.

     In addition to breathing difficulties, you’re going to notice that you don’t have as much energy on an all-liquid diet.  I found that my workouts were very similar to fasted training as far as my energy levels were concerned.  Even though I was consuming the same number of carbs on an all-liquid diet as I was on a solid food diet, I still found that I had less energy because my body was able to process the liquid carbs so much faster.  I did find that I had a little more energy if I had a substantial liquid meal about 1 hour before my workout.  If you’ve ever tried fasted training, then you know that the longer you do it the easier it becomes.  So, despite the lack of energy, if you continue to power through it, you’ll slowly find that you’re lifting heavier weights over time.  Within a week or two, you’ll be back to lifting close to the same weights that you were on a solid food diet.

     To summarize, your workouts are going to suck on an all-liquid diet.  You’re going to have to lower the intensity of your workouts, you’re going to feel weaker and have less energy.  However, over time you’ll start to get stronger as you get used to your energy level on an all-liquid diet.


     Hopefully you found this article helpful if you were considering an all-liquid diet or if you happen to have your jaw wired shut like me.  Just remember that it’s not permanent, so try to embrace the new challenges instead of just surviving through them.  You’ll learn a lot about yourself and grow stronger mentally after it’s over.

If you have any other tips or comments about surviving an all-liquid diet, be sure to comment below.  And, as usual, you can always email me with any questions at michael@uproarathletics.com.

Thanks!

Michael McGill

Uproar Athletics


Michael McGill
Michael McGill

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