The TLC diet stands for Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes. It is a type of eating strategy created to help people to be able to effectively reduce their cholesterol levels. The claim is that by keeping up this diet over the long term, you will be able to lower your bad cholesterol (LDL) in a meaningful way. In fact, it states that if you follow it to the letter for six weeks, you are likely to reduce your LDL cholesterol by between 8 and 10 percent.

Who Created the TLC Diet?

The TLC diet was first created by the National Institutes of Health (NIH)’s National Cholesterol Education Program. It is also endorsed by the American Heart Association as being a heart-healthy way to eat in order to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

The main component of this diet is to significantly reduce fat intake, particularly in the case of saturated fat. Saturated fats are the type of dietary fat found in heavy meats, fried foods and full-fat dairy products such as whole milk. Eating more than just a tiny amount of saturated fat has been associated with elevated cholesterol levels. When LDL cholesterol levels are too high, it increases the risk of heart disease, heart attack and stroke.

What Do You Do on This Diet?

The TLC diet typically requires a follower to have to greatly reduce their saturated fat intake while boosting their fiber intake and limiting the amount of dietary cholesterol they consume. According to top medical organizations (mentioned earlier), this can make a considerable difference in reducing high cholesterol levels, even without having to resort to the use of prescription medications in some cases.

In order to follow the TLC diet properly, the first thing you will need to do is find out how many calories you should be eating every day. A doctor or dietician can often provide that advice. From there, it’s important to learn about the types of foods you should be eating and how you should be preparing them in order to enjoy your meals and still stay within your daily calorie range.

How Many Calories Will You Eat?

Most women will need around 1,800 calories depending on age, activity level, weight, height and other factors. Women trying to lose weight may need as few as 1,200 calories. On the other hand, men will need around 2,500 calories based on the same factors, but will need only 1,600 when weight loss is the goal.

The types of foods you will typically eat on the TLC diet include skinless poultry, very small amounts of reduced fat cheese and dairy, very little to no processed or cured meats, lots of veggies, lots of fruits, whole grains and very little – if any – processed foods.

Two Key Guidelines

As the main focus of the TLC diet is to be healthy and keep cholesterol levels where they should be, the foods you eat are low in both saturated fat and natural cholesterol.  That said, this is not a low-fat diet.  Instead, it also requires dieters to eat an appropriate amount of good fats.  These good fats include monounsaturated fats.

Also included among the types of foods you’ll focus on eating with this diet include those high in fiber.  Research has shown that diets high in fiber help to promote better heart health and support healthy cholesterol levels.

Overall, there are two key guidelines that TLC diet followers will need to stick to each day.  This includes:

  • Eating less than 7 percent of your total daily calories in the form of saturated fat.
  • Eating less than 200 milligrams of dietary cholesterol.

It’s a good idea to speak with a doctor before starting the TLC diet, particularly if the goal is cholesterol control. If you are taking medication to lower your cholesterol levels, don’t stop taking it just because you are following this diet, unless you have been directed to do so by your doctor.

Are There Banned Foods?

There are no specific foods that must be consumed in order to follow the TLC diet, but many people find that they need to change what they purchase at the grocery store. Depending on the choices that are made, this could mean that you pay more or less once you get to the checkout counter.

While this diet was designed for cholesterol reduction and heart health, some people do lose weight by following it due to the improvements to their overall nutrition.