Low-fiber/low-residue diet

A low-residue diet is a diet intended to reduce certain constituents of the bowel, often with consequence for functional behavior of the bowel.

A low-fiber, low-residue diet is often recommended for individuals with certain medical conditions such as Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, diverticulitis, or after certain types of surgery. 

Low fiber/low residue type diet is designed to reduce the amount of undigested food in the intestines, which can help to minimize symptoms such as diarrhea, abdominal pain, and bloating. 

A low-fiber, low-residue diet is often prescribed for individuals with certain digestive issues, particularly when the goal is to reduce the amount of fiber and undigested food moving through the gastrointestinal tract.

A low-fiber, low-residue diet is designed to minimize the volume and frequency of stools and reduce gas production. 

This type of diet is often used in the management of certain gastrointestinal conditions and for bowel preparation before diagnostic procedures like colonoscopy.

The terms “low-fiber” and “low-residue” are frequently used interchangeably in clinical practice but the term using the term “low-fiber” instead of “low-residue” is preferred due to the lack of a scientifically accepted method to quantify food residue.

There is no scientifically accepted quantitative definition of residue and there is no method to determine the residue produced by a food.

A low-fiber diet typically restricts fiber intake to less than 10 grams per day, in contrast to the recommended daily fiber intake for healthy adults, which is generally 25-35 grams per day.

Foods low in fiber include refined grains, well-cooked vegetables without skins or seeds, and certain fruits like bananas and melons.

A low-fiber diet can be beneficial for bowel preparation before colonoscopy: better patient tolerance and compliance compared to a clear liquid diet.

A low-fiber diet may be used therapeutically during acute phases of certain bowel diseases, although high-quality evidence supporting its use in conditions like diverticulitis, acute colitis, Crohn’s disease, and ulcerative colitis is lacking.

Foods to Avoid:

Whole grains such as whole wheat, whole grains, brown rice

 Nuts, seeds, and popcorn 

Tough or fatty meats

 Raw fruits and vegetables

Dried fruits

 Legumes such as beans, lentils, and chickpeas

Foods to Include:

White bread, white rice, refined pasta

Cooked and peeled fruits and vegetables, without seeds

Well-cooked tender meats, poultry, and fish

Dairy products like milk, yogurt, and cheese


Cooking  methods-that make foods softer.

Fruits and vegetablesthat are well-cooked and peeled, with seeds removed.

 Opt for canned or cooked fruits without skin and vegetables without seeds or skins.

Grains-Select refined grains like white bread, white rice, refined pasta, and low-fiber cereals.

Proteins-Include tender cuts of meat, poultry, and fish without skin.

 Choose dairy products like milk, yogurt, and cheese.

 Limit high-fat foods as they may be harder to digest.

Drinking fluids , such as water, herbal teas, and clear broths.

Avoid caffeinated and carbonated beverages if they trigger gastrointestinal symptoms.

Low fiber, diets may be prescribed for patients with functional gastrointestinal disorders, as these disorders may be mitigated by fewer and smaller bowel movements each day.

A low-residue diet is often provided  before and/or after abdominal surgery or cancer treatments.

A low-fiber diet is a low-residue diet eliminating dietary fiber in particular. 

A low-fiber diet is a low-residue diet  terms are not always distinguished, but when they are, a low-residue diet will include additional restrictions on foods such as dairy products, which do not contain fiber but do develop residue after digestion.

If fermentable carbohydrates are the source of the problem the patient may be directed to a low-FODMAP diet. 

Some monotrophic diets, such as the carnivore diet, are implicitly low-residue, but may also sacrifice nutrition.

Fiber is the part of fruits, vegetables and grains not digested.

A low-fiber diet limits these foods in the diet, resulting in less undigested material moving through the large intestine, and stools are less bulky.

A low-fiber diet may be recommended for a number of conditions or situations. 

It is sometimes referred to as a restricted-fiber diet.

A low-fiber diet limits the types of vegetables, fruits and grains that can be eaten.

Some of the foods that are allowed on a low-fiber diet include milk, cheese, yogurt, meat, fish and eggs.

Yogurt, ice cream, cereal and even some drinks may have fiber. 

Foods should have no more than 1 to 2 grams of fiber in one serving.

Avoid foods with fiber: 

Nuts, seeds, dried fruit and coconut.

Whole grains, popcorn, wheat germ and bran.

Brown rice, wild rice, oatmeal, granola, shredded wheat, quinoa, bulgur and barley.

Dried beans, baked beans, lima beans, peas and lentils.

Chunky peanut butter.

Acceptable foods:

Tender meat, fish and poultry, ham, bacon, shellfish, and lunch meat.

Eggs, tofu and creamy peanut butter.

Dairy products if tolerated.

White rice and pasta.

Baked goods made with refined wheat or rye flour, such as bread, biscuits, pancakes, waffles, bagels, saltines and graham crackers.

Hot and cold cereals that have less than 2 grams of dietary fiber in a single serving. 

Cereals made with rice cereals often have very little fiber.

Canned or well-cooked potatoes, carrots and green beans.

Plain tomato sauce.

Vegetable and fruit juices.

Bananas, melons, applesauce and canned peaches.

Butter, margarine, oils and salad dressings without seeds.

Fewer bowel movements and smaller stools on a low-fiber diet are expected.

A low-fiber diet is not a no-fiber diet. 

Some sources recommend serving sizes that contain no more than 2 grams per serving.

Some diets recommend limiting servings of baked goods to 1-2 grams per serving.

Most diets also recommend eating warm cereals such as cream of wheat, cream of rice, grits, and farina.

A low-fiber diet may be used to prepare for or recover from various medical procedures:

Abdominal surgery


Internal hemorrhoid surgery

A low-fiber diet may also be used during acute stages of the following conditions, to rest the bowels:

Bowel inflammation

Crohn’s disease


Ulcerative colitis

Radiation therapy to the pelvis and lower bowel



The most common preparation for a colonoscopy is a clear liquid diet accompanied by laxatives. 

Using a low-residue diet instead, also accompanied by laxatives,performs at least as well for bowel cleansing and is associated with better patient satisfaction.

A low-fiber diet is generally used for acute diverticulitis, the guidelines recommend a high-fiber diet for patients with diverticulosis.

A high-fiber diet can prevent diverticular disease.

Dietary fiber is the indigestible part of food made from plants. 

Residue includes not only fiber but also other materials found in the colon after digestion. 

A low-fiber diet simply reduces fiber intake by eliminating or limiting high-fiber foods such as raw fruits and vegetables. 

A low-residue diet includes restrictions on foods such as dairy products, which do not contain fiber but do develop residue after digestion.

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