TLC diet


The Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes diet, better known as the TLC diet, was created by the National Institutes of Health’s National Cholesterol Education Program. The TLC diet was published in an 80-page booklet in 2005. This plan is similar to the DASH diet as it was developed through research and is highly recommended by the American Heart Association as a cholesterol diet. In fact, the primary goal of this diet is to lower high cholesterol levels which can reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke.

Basic Principles

The focal point of this diet is reducing LDL, or bad cholesterol. To accomplish this, the diet limits saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol. The TLC diet also includes tips on food preparation and even tips on the selection of food at restaurants. These useful, everyday tips are aimed at helping you maintain a healthy lifestyle.

To begin the TLC diet, it is important you determine your target number of calories which can vary based on your goal. If you are not concerned with losing weight, approximately 2500 calories per day is appropriate. However, if you are interested in losing weight, women should aim for 1200 calories and men should aim for 1600 calories each day. The next step is to keep track of the saturated fat, total fat and cholesterol you consume in a day. Saturated fat should be less that 7 percent of your daily calories and the total fat should be 25 to 35 percent of your daily calories. Cholesterol is also limited to less than 200 mg per day.

In the TLC diet, you are able to choose the foods you want to eat, but careful tracking of all food is critical. You must track all calories, fat and cholesterol that you consume so you can understand exactly the levels of each that you eat each day.

There are some suggestions and requirements regarding the portions of each food group. For instance, you should eat no more than 5 ounces per day of lean meat, poultry, fish or dry beans. You should consume 2 to 3 servings of low-fat milk or milk products each day along with multiple servings of fruits and vegetables.

Finally, you should have at least 6 servings of bread, cereals, rice, pasta and other grains each day. Vegetables, fruits and whole grains are excellent sources of fiber but additional fiber can be added as a supplement if you have not successfully lowered your LDL to the desired level. The TLC diet does allow for some sweets, which are optional and can be included depending on your calories.

It is also recommended to exercise while taking part in the TLC diet. The minimum exercise suggestion is 30 minutes of moderate intensity on most, if not on all days. The TLC diet is intended to be more than a short-term fix; this diet promotes and is intendedhealthy lifestyle changes for the rest of your life.


The TLC diet is supported with numerous studies that have been published in medical journals. In one study, after being on the TLC diet for 32 days, participants decreased their cholesterol levels by 11 percent. In another study, participants saw their levels dropped by 18 percent after 8 months on the TLC diet. After the first 6 weeks, you should see your levels drop by 10 percent after the first 6 weeks on the diet. While weight loss can be experienced using the TLC diet, the the medical community and research both support the TLC diet’s ability to reduce bad cholesterol.

It should be noted that some people might still require medication to manage cholesterol levels. Diet and exercise are two methods of achieving healthy levels, but other factors may require the advice and treatment from a doctor.

This diet does require you to carefully read and calculate the values on nutrition labels. Examples and explanations are provided within the NIH publication, but it does require some effort. For people looking for a rigid diet or unlimited portions, the TLC diet does not meet those expectations. Rather, this diet is designed to create a healthy lifestyle that can be maintained indefinitely.

Additionally, the diet does not guarantee weight loss. Certainly this provides a healthy manner of eating, but you are able to determine the amount of calories consumed each day. So, if you need to lower your cholesterol and lose weight, you should choose a calorie amount that leaves you with a slight deficit. Most dieticians agree that losing 1 to 2 pounds each week is a healthy rate.

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