TLC Diet – How To Do It & What Are Its Benefits

TLC Diet

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What exactly is the TLC diet plan and how can it help you in your journey towards health and well-being? Created by The National Institute of Health, the Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes (TLC) diet claims to lower the low-density lipoprotein cholesterol level. The American Heart Association recognizes it as one of the diets, which is most helpful to the heart.


The aim of this diet is to reduce fat, particularly saturated fat from the diet. Saturated fat increases bad cholesterol in the system, which ultimately increases the possibility of heart attacks and stroke. The diet is designed to lower the risk of heart diseases along with healthy changes in one’s lifestyle.  TLC diet claims to reduce the low-density lipoprotein by 8 to 10% in six weeks.


  • Limit saturated fat intake to 7% of the total calorie intake.
  • The daily cholesterol intake should be below 200 milligrams.
  • The sodium intake should be limited to 2400 milligrams per day.
  • Twenty five percent of the daily calories should come from fat intake. The calorie intake should be kept at a level for maintaining healthy weight.
  • Physical activity must be followed regularly with the diet. Aim to indulge in 30 minutes of exercise daily.

How Does TLC Diet Work?

The TLC diet aims to lower saturated fat level in the diet, which in turn lowers the cholesterol levels. Replacing saturated fat with unsaturated fats this diet keeps the cholesterol level within the limits. For managing cholesterol, the calorie intake should be 2500 calories per day for men and 1800 calories per day for women. For this, you need to limit the consumption of fatty foods, such as butter, salami and meats. The daily cholesterol levels should not exceed 200 milligrams a day. To lose weight, 1600 calories per day for men and 1200 calories per day for women are ideal.

If the TLC dietary regime is unable to reduce the LDL cholesterol by 10%, then you need to supplement it with 2 grams of plant stanols along with increased intake of fiber. Fiber, along with plant stanols prevents cholesterol absorption in the blood.

How to Follow TLC Diet:

The TLC diet may look complicated at first, but it is actually not. The diet prescribes the consumption of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, fishes, skinless poultry and low fat dairy products. Try to start with the meat and beans group first and then move on to different groups.

1. Meat and beans:

The meat group comprises of fish, dry peas, beans, and poultry. Skinless chicken, veal, fish are some healthy options. Do not eat more than two servings a day. The serving size should be about the size of a playing card. You can substitute 1/4th cup of dry beans with 1 ounce of lean meat.

2. Eggs:

Do not consume more than two yolks a week.

3. Dairy:

Dairy should preferably comprise of low fat milk and dairy products. Aim to consume 2 to 3 servings a day. The servings can include 1 cup of fat-free milk, 1 cup of Greek yogurt and 1 ounce of low fat cheese.

4. Fruits:

Aim to eat 2 to 4 servings of fruits a day. The servings should include one medium-sized fruit like apple, orange or banana, ½ cup of canned fruit, 1 cup of berries and 1/4th cup of fruit juice without added sugar.

5. Vegetables:

You should eat at least 3 to 5 servings of vegetables. You can include 1 cup of raw leafy greens, ½ cup of raw vegetables, and 1/4th cup of vegetable juice.

6. Grains:

Grains include cereals, breads, rice, pasta and other grains. Aim to eat at least six servings a day. The servings should include one slice of bread, 1 ounce of cold cereal, ½ cup of cooked pasta or rice noodles and ½ muffins.

7. Sweets and snacks:

The sweet and salt intake should be within the calorie limit. Choose snacks that are low in fat and are prepared with unsaturated fat. Avoid consuming junk and processed foods.

8. Exercise:

The TLC diet recommends at least 30 minutes of moderate to intense physical activity and exercise. You should do 30 minutes of brisk walking every day. Increased physical activity reduces the risk of diabetes and heart diseases. It also prevents obesity and increases the energy levels.

Foods to avoid:

  • Limit the intake of saturated fats and oil like bacon, butter, palm oil and coconut oil. Opt for canola, margarine, and vegetable      oil instead.
  • Avoid consuming trans fatty acids or partially hydrogenated vegetable oil. This oil is usually found in hard margarines, cookies, chips, and snack crackers.
  • Fatty meats like steak, ground beef, hot dog, sausage, bacon, bologna and pastrami should be avoided. Limit the consumption of      organ meats and egg yolk.
  • Do not consume milk and milk products that contain more than 1% of milk fat. This commonly includes cream, cheese and whipped toppings.
  • Snacks like crackers, quick breads, refined grains, croissants and cakes made with hydrogenated, whole milk and eggs should be      avoided. Use the spreads and toppings lightly. Dip the bread in olive oil instead of applying butter or cheese.
  • Processed foods contain high amounts of saturated fats and should be avoided. Fast foods like hamburgers, fried chicken and tacos must be avoided. These foods are high in saturated fat. If you want to indulge in fast food, opt for broiled sandwiches. Salads with low fat dressing are also a healthy option.

Benefits of TLC diet:

1. Heart health:

The TLC diet has been proven to be highly effective in treating and preventing cardiovascular diseases. It is your best defense against cholesterol, heart diseases and blood pressure. Known as a heart-friendly diet, it focuses only on eating fruits, vegetables and whole grains with little or no salt.

2. Diabetes:

According to a research printed in the Journal of Atherosclerosis and Thrombosis, the TLC diet has been found to be very effective in lowering the insulin levels in people suffering from high cholesterol. This is highly significant in preventing the possibility of type 2 diabetes.

3. Weight loss:

The TLC diet does not target weight loss. It has been created specifically to target cholesterol, and the success with weight loss has not been researched. The TLC diet is more focused on maintaining an ideal body weight and determining the daily calorie intake.

Nutritional value:

1. Fat:

The diet, like most other diets, recommends that the overall fat consumption to be 30% of the daily total calories. There are two main types of fat-saturated and unsaturated fat. Saturated fats, also known as bad fat, raise the cholesterol levels in the blood. The TLC diet effectively minimizes the amount of saturated fats, leading to lower cholesterol levels.

2. Cholesterol:

The TLC diet limits the cholesterol intake to less than 200 milligrams a day.

3. Carbohydrates:

The TLC diet stresses on the consumption of healthy carbohydrates found in foods like pasta, whole wheat bread and vegetables. The total carb intake according to the TLC diet should be around 50% of the total calories.

4. Protein:

The TLC diet provides 15% of the daily calories from protein. This is within the recommended levels of 10 to 35%.

5. Fiber:

The TLC diet increases the intake of fiber in the diet. Fiber absorbs the bad cholesterol from the body without resorting to medication. Vegetables, fruits, legumes and lentils are the major sources of fiber. Fiber not only lowers cholesterol, but also supports digestion.

6. Potassium:

The fruits and vegetables prescribed in the TLC diet stabilize the blood pressure levels and reduce the risk of developing kidney stones.

7. Calcium:

The TLC diet also provides high levels of calcium, which prevents the loss of bone mineral density, preventing arthritis. The diet fulfills the recommended dietary allowance of 1000 milligrams of calcium a day.

Advantages of the TLC diet:

  • The TLC diet is extremely simple, easy and      straightforward to follow.
  • The diet promotes health and positive changes in      lifestyle, while lowering the cholesterol and high blood pressure levels.
  • The diet encourages people to read the food labels so      that they know what they are eating. You need to follow all the      instructions by reading the nutritional levels and calculating the      percentage of saturated fats in different foods that you consume.


  • The TLC diet is not suitable for people who want to      shed weight. It is not designed for losing weight, but for lowering the      cholesterol levels. The TLC diet does help to lose weight, but it should      not be taken primarily for this purpose.
  • Despite following the diet, you may still require      cholesterol lowering drugs.

Sample diet chart:

This sample diet chart contains approximately 2200 calories, with 25% derived from total fat.

  • Early morning-7 am

One cup of green tea.

  • Breakfast- 8 am

Half cup of oatmeal or cereals with non-fat milk.

One sliced banana or orange.

  • Lunch-1 pm

Whole-wheat vegetable sandwich with 1 ounce of chicken breast.

One bowl of lettuce salad with 1 teaspoon of mayonnaise dressing.

One apple.

  • Evening snack:

One cup of Greek yogurt topped with raisins, berries and peanuts.

One sliced peach with non-fat milk.

  • Dinner:

Three ounces of baked salmon with boiled vegetables.

One cup cooked brown rice.

One cup of tomato salad with olive oil dressing.

One slice of brown bread with 1 teaspoon soft margarine.

Is determination, the key to the success of any diet plan. Do consult your doctor before making any drastic changes to your diet plan.

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