Preparing for Surgery Presurgery Nutrition

Starvation Before Surgery: How Fasting-From-Midnight Can Slow Your Recovery

At ClearFast, we’re all about empowering patients with the knowledge they need to have the best surgery experience possible—and, if you’ve been following along on our blog, you probably know that a big part of a successful surgery experience lies in avoiding starvation before surgery. Today, then, we’re diving into what happens to the body when you deprive it of food before your procedure. 

We’ll cover:

  • Where your body gets its energy when you don’t eat for an extended period of time
  • How muscle breakdown can occur as a result of starvation before surgery
  • The affect starvation before surgery has on your body’s ability to recover

Now, let’s dig in…

What happens to the body when you don’t eat for an extended period of time? 

When you’re nourishing yourself regularly, your body breaks down glycogen, turning it into glucose which it uses for energy. According to Science Alert, about 25% of that energy goes to feeding your brain, while the other 75% powers your muscle tissue and red blood cells. After about six hours of fasting, however, you begin to run out of glycogen stores—and your body has to make a critical shift and begin getting its fuel elsewhere, including from muscle tissue. This eventually leads to muscle breakdown.

Can your body enter starvation mode as a result of fasting before surgery? 

Unless you’re lucky enough to snag the first surgery slot of the day, fasting-from-midnight can often mean you’re stuck waiting for surgery for up to 17 hours with no sustenance—meaning “fasting before surgery” can quickly turn into starvation before surgery. In fact, according to an article published in British Journal of Anaesthesia, a study of 190 patients found that 70% of patients had to fast over twice the recommended length of time for both food and drink—and that 97% were starved longer than required.

While we always recommend you listen to your doctor’s specific instructions regarding fasting before surgery, it’s important to note that fasting-from-midnight is a non-evidence-based practice. It’s now often being replaced with instructions to nourish and hydrate with a clear, complex-carb-rich presurgery drink up to two hours before your procedure. Consuming proper nourishment in the form of a presurgery carbohydrate drink like ClearFast allows your body to nourish itself (so it doesn’t have to start breaking down muscle tissue for that all-important energy)—and provides a ton of other benefits for a seamless surgery experience as well (including a drastically reduced risk of post-op nausea and vomiting, easier IV “sticks”, a reduced risk of surgical infection, and reduced stress before surgery). In fact, you can read more about the benefits of replacing your fast with a presurgery drink here.  

What role does starvation before surgery play in my ability to recover? 

We say this all of the time (because it’s true!): undergoing surgery is like a running marathon. It’s an event that puts a ton of physical and mental stress on your body, and the better prepared you are when you begin it, the better your end result will be. You’d never enter into a marathon starved and dehydrated, and the same goes for surgery—when you think about it, it doesn’t make much sense to go under the knife lacking proper nourishment and strength. When you send yourself into a point of starvation before surgery, your body begins to run low on glycogen and eventually breakdown your muscle tissue to get energy; as a result, you run an increased risk of extended recovery time and—the thing absolutely no one wants—a longer hospital stay. 


Overall, starvation before surgery plays a major role in your body’s ability to properly—and quickly—recover. If you have a procedure coming up, talk to your doctor about ClearFast’ing in place of fasting—and order your ClearFast Presurgery Drink here when you’re ready. And, as always, reach out to our team at support@drinkcf.com if you have any questions at all. We’re always here and happy to help make your surgery experience a successful one!

Healing Tips Presurgery Nutrition

What Should I Do With My Leftover ClearFast? The Top 4 Non-Surgery Uses for Carbohydrate Drinks

Turns out, Thanksgiving leftovers aren’t the only leftovers worth getting creative with. There are lots of reasons you might have a spare bottle of the ClearFast carbohydrate beverage in your fridge—whether you bought extra bottles on purpose like so many of our customers do, or simply didn’t use as much of our presurgery drink as you thought you would before your procedure—but the important thing is you don’t let all of that extra hydration go to waste. Today, we’re talking what to do with your extra ClearFast bottles and offering up some top non-surgery uses for carbohydrate drinks


  1. Exercise Hydration

Exercise hydration is probably one of the most popular uses for carbohydrate drinks. If you’re planning to hit the gym as you prep for holiday season (bring on the pecan pie!), you’ll lose water and electrolytes as you sweat. Having that leftover ClearFast either before or after your workout, then, is a great way to refuel your body with the electrolytes it needs for hydration and complex carbohydrates it needs for energy. Plus, because ClearFast is formulated as a presurgery drink, it offers a level of medical-grade hydration you won’t find anywhere else (especially in sugary sports drinks that are chock-full of simple sugars and harmful colored dyes). Psst…planning on taking your fitness commitment to the next level and running a holiday marathon? Check out our post on using ClearFast to carb-load for optimal athletic performance


  1. Cold & Flu

When it comes to uses for carbohydrate drinks, this one is so powerful—and yet so often overlooked. After all, Mom always said, “fluids, fluids, fluids”—and we couldn’t agree more. If you find yourself feeling a bit under the weather during these colder months, use that extra bottle of the ClearFast carbohydrate beverage to get medical-grade hydration and liquid nourishment. When you’re sick, your appetite tends to be really suppressed—which is why a presurgery drink like ClearFast is the perfect solution for ensuring your body gets the nourishment, minerals, and healing properties it needs…without having to struggle to keep down a heavy meal. 


  1. Before or After a Plane Flight

Ever walk off the plane and feel like you’ve been traveling through the desert for days? That’s because of the cold, dry recycled air (no, thank you). Using that leftover bottle of the ClearFast enhanced recovery drink to combat the dehydration that occurs as a result of plane rides, then, is one of our favorite non-surgery uses for carbohydrate drinks. The selenium in ClearFast also helps promote healthy immune function, so you can rest easy knowing you’re not only hydrated, but—even more importantly—extra protected from that germ-laden tray table and seat-belt buckle. 


  1. Hangover Cure

The holidays are coming up and, for many us, that can mean we’re going to imbibe a bit (eggnog, anyone?). We all know that having too much to drink can cause some serious dehydration—and that dehydration is the main cause of those dreaded hangovers. If you happen to have a few too many glasses of bubbly at that upcoming holiday party, not to worry—simply drink that chilled leftover bottle of ClearFast first thing in the morning to quickly kick off your recovery and rehydration. 




Overall, when it comes to non-surgery uses for carbohydrate drinks, it’s all about hydration and liquid nourishment. Whether you’re traveling on a plane to your holiday destination, working hard to meet your pre-holiday fitness goal, or are simply feeling a bit under the weather as the temperatures drop, there are tons of times that the minerals, nutrients, and electrolytes in that spare bottle of ClearFast you have sitting in your fridge will save the day. And, when you’re ready to stock back up, you can order your ClearFast Presurgery Drink here!

For Med Pros Presurgery Nutrition

Answering Your Questions about our Pre Surgery Carbohydrate Drink: The Top 5 ClearFast FAQs

At ClearFast, we get to be on the forefront of an exciting shift in the way the medical industry prepares patients for surgery. With physicians and luminary hospitals across the U.S. now replacing old-school fasting-from-midnight with the consumption of a pre surgery carbohydrate drink instead, we hear from patients all of the time who have questions about this seemingly surprising change in protocol. Today, then, we’re answering your top 5 questions about our pre surgery carbohydrate drink.

  1. But I thought I was supposed to fast before surgery?

First and foremost, you should always follow your doctor’s instructions. That being said, this is definitely the most common question we hear—and understandably so—so let’s break down fasting before surgery versus consuming a pre surgery carbohydrate drink:

  • 150, years ago medical professionals realized having food in your stomach before surgery could cause you to aspirate. 
  • Aspiration is the entry of your stomach contents/food into the lower respiratory tract and lungs—which can be very dangerous during surgery. 
  • In response, medical professionals implemented a new, sweeping rule: patients were to have no food or drink after midnight before their surgery (also called “NPO” or “NPO after midnight” in the medical industry).
  • Fast-forward to the year 2000, when extensive new research (over 30 independent studies) concluded that patients who drank clear fluid before surgery actually had emptier stomachs than their fasting counterparts. 
  • Patients who fasted had a build-up of stomach acids as a result of fasting. Therefore, patients who drank clear fluid prior to surgery were ultimately deemed less likely to aspirate than those who fasted.

So, while you should follow your physician’s specific surgery prep instructions—we do know that modern research points to the fact that consuming a pre surgery carbohydrate drink helps decrease a patient’s risk of aspiration—making the question of a pre surgery drink definitely a worthwhile one to address at your pre-op appointment. (Psst…you can learn more about talking to your doctor about ClearFast here.)

  1. When do I need to have my bottles completed by?

Great question! You should drink your last ClearFast bottle two hours prior to your procedure, unless instructed otherwise. You can check out our drinking instructions and bottle-count recommendations on our website. PRO TIP: Chill your ClearFast overnight for a smooth, tasty option! 

  1. Can I use CF as part of my colonoscopy prep?

Absolutely! Our pre surgery carbohydrate drink is used for colonoscopy prep all of the time (more on ClearFast for Colonoscopy prep here)—and it’s actually pretty perfect for this common procedure for two main reasons:

  • Chase your prep drink: As part of your colonoscopy prep procedure, you have to consume that foul-tasting prep liquid. ClearFast, though, acts as a great “chaser” for your prep drink, helping it go down smoother and easier. (Colonoscopy prep customers say this lifehack makes the dreaded prep experience “totally different.”)

  • Fight dehydration and hunger: Drinking the prep liquid (and emptying your bowels) can lead to major dehydration and electrolyte imbalances. Dehydration and hunger are things you want to avoid in general, but especially before undergoing anesthesia. Because it’s chock-full of complex carbs and electrolytes (while still being colorless and safe to consume before surgery), ClearFast greatly reduces dehydration and hunger before your colonoscopy. 

  1. I’m not usually “starving” as a result of fasting before surgery. Are there other benefits of taking ClearFast before surgery?

The benefits of ClearFast don’t stop at the obvious (that it fills you up and hydrates you). Even if fasting after midnight doesn’t necessarily stress you out or leave you hungry in the morning, our pre surgery carbohydrate drink offers up a number of other benefits. Because it contains six essential nutrients (complex carbohydrates, electrolytes, Vitamin A, Selenium, Zinc, L-citrulline), ClearFast can:

  • Greatly reduce your risk of post-op nausea and vomiting: No more heavy meds on an empty stomach! (More on avoiding getting sick after anesthesia here.)
  • Facilitate easier, less painful IV “sticks”: When you’re hydrated, your veins are much easier to find.
  • Give you an edge on recovery: Zinc and L-citrulline work to heal you faster by promoting healthy circulation and nitric oxide production, while Vitamin-A helps support healthy tissue function. Combined, these properties make for a faster, easier recovery process. 
  1. Why can’t I just drink water?

Hey, we love water as much as the next hydration expert. But, while water will (of course) hydrate you, it isn’t capable of acting as a “liquid food” the way the right pre surgery carbohydrate drink does. Because ClearFast is chock-full of complex carbs (rather than simple sugars like you’d find in sports drinks), it nourishes you before surgery. And pre surgery nourishment plays a huge role in ensuring you don’t get sick upon waking from surgery (from being administered heavy anesthesia meds on an empty stomach full of nothing but water). Plus nutrients that you won’t find in water (like zinc, L-citrulline and Vitamin-A) work together to make for a faster recovery and healing process.


That’s it for today’s roundup of your top FAQs about our pre surgery carbohydrate drink. You can browse more ClearFast FAQs here, or order your ClearFast Presurgery Drink here if you’re ready to change the game when it comes to your surgery experience. And, as always, don’t hesitate to reach out to the ClearFast team at support@drinkcf.com if you have any questions that we didn’t cover today. We’re always here and more than happy to help!

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