What is the TLC diet, and who is it suitable for?

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What is the TLC diet, and how successful is it in helping people lose weight? High cholesterol, which raises the risk of heart disease and stroke in about 40% of adults. But many people are unaware they have cholesterol issues because they frequently have no symptoms. To lower high cholesterol levels, doctors may prescribe medications like statins, but they typically advise making lifestyle modifications, particularly dietary adjustments. This is where the TLC diet, a meal plan made especially to lower high cholesterol, comes in.


What is the TLC diet?

Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes are also known as TLC. The US National Institutes of Health developed this treatment plan. The TLC diet aims to reduce LDL cholesterol first before lowering total cholesterol.

Increased risk of heart disease and stroke due to plaque buildup in the arteries brought on by high cholesterol levels.

TLC is a non-pharmacological approach to lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease; as a result, most people do not need to rely on prescription medications, nor do you need to make separate meals for you and other family members.

Eating plenty of vegetables, fruits, breads, cereals, pasta, and lean meats is a requirement of the TLC diet. Additionally, buying specialty foods or eliminating foods you enjoy is not necessary when following the TLC diet.

The diet places a strong emphasis on comparing items, examining food labels, and selecting healthier variations of your favorite foods.


Can you lose weight with the TLC diet?

TLC advises consuming foods with a daily caloric intake of 1,200 or 1,600 calories if you’re trying to lose weight. The TLC diet, however, might not be for you if weight loss is your main concern. Studies contrasting TLC with other diet plans reveal that individuals lose less weight when following this diet.

However, this diet delivers on its promises and actually lowers cholesterol more than it reduces body weight.

It is unknown if the TLC diet will aid in weight reduction because it is intended to lower cholesterol levels rather than promote weight loss. However, studies indicate that low-fat diets might result in some weight loss.


Menu for the TLC diet

The foundation of the TLC diet is the idea that dietary cholesterol can have an impact on blood cholesterol and the risk of cardiovascular disease.

According to the TLC diet, you should consume plenty of fruits, vegetables, healthy grains, low-fat or fat-free dairy products, fish, skinless chicken, and other lean meats in moderation.

The TLC diet is quite regimented and suggests consuming a certain number of servings of each food type. For illustration, the dietary guidelines below state:

  • Whole grains: 6 servings per day
  • Vegetables and beans or peas: 3 to 5 servings a day
  • Fruit: 2 to 4 servings a day
  • Low-fat dairy products: 2 to 3 servings per day
  • Meat or fish: 140 grams or less per day.

This regime’s additional directives include:

  • Limit your daily salt consumption to 2,300 mg or less.
  • Limit your daily cholesterol intake to 200 mg or less.
  • 5 to 10 grams of soluble fiber daily intake
  • Men should consume 2500 calories per day, while women should consume 1800 calories per day.
  • Researchers advise limiting saturated fat to 5–6% of total daily calories, which is a little less than the TLC diet.
  • consuming both unsaturated and saturated fats, such as the fat found in almonds, avocados, and olive oil.


Benefits of the TLC diet

The TLC diet suggests eating frequently, managing your portions, and increasing your intake of vegetables to help you feel full. According to research, eating fruits and vegetables, especially when they are solid, before a meal might improve satiety and lower overall energy consumption.(1)

The TLC diet also emphasizes exercise as a crucial element. This diet suggests 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity on most or every day of the week. We discuss a few of the TLC diet’s advantages in the following sections of the article:


Develop a healthy lifestyle habit.

The TLC diet is a combination of healthy lifestyle modifications that may be maintained over the long term to enhance general health, not a simple or quick weight loss diet.

While heart-healthy meals are the major focus, the TLC diet also aims to motivate participants to work out frequently. The TLC diet also emphasizes the importance of reading nutrition labels, drinking adequate water, and eating slowly.


available food

You don’t need expensive or specialty foods because you can simply find the ingredients for this diet at an ordinary grocery store.


Contains nutritious whole foods

You must consume fewer calories than you burn each day in order to lose weight. The TLC diet doesn’t just help you lose weight, though. Some meals need to be completely avoided or significantly limited in order to effectively cut cholesterol and lower the risk of heart disease.

This diet promotes the consumption of whole, nutrient-dense foods that are lower in calories and saturated fat, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds.

The TLC diet suggests eating wholesome, natural foods that can help you lower your cholesterol and weight while decreasing your risk of heart disease.


beneficial to long-term health

The TLC diet is intended to provide a long-term remedy for the high risk of heart disease. While followers of this diet might experience improvements in as little as a few months, with continued use, they can significantly reduce their cholesterol levels and heart disease symptoms.

appropriate for vegetarians

The diet’s meals are easily adaptable to a vegan or vegetarian diet.

Gluten free

The recipes in this diet can be readily changed while still adhering to a gluten-free diet.

low-fat diet

Compared to other diets, this one has significantly less fat. Low-fat eating habits are known to be heart-healthy choices.


permitted items for the TLC diet

TLC restricts sodium intake and suggests substituting low-fat foods for items rich in saturated fat, like the majority of heart-healthy eating programs. The following foods are among those permitted on this diet:

  • Veggies and fruits
  • Beans, lentils, and nuts
  • dairy goods that are low-fat or fat-free
  • Chicken, fish, and lean meat eggs
  • Whole grain products, such as pasta, bread, and cereal
  • Dark rice
  • Potatoes; Low-fat biscuits like gingerbread bits or figs
  • Turkey and chicken without skin
  • Beef (only very lean ground beef and lean cuts)
  • shrimp
  • Vegetable oils, including safflower, canola, olive, and corn
  • Salmon and tuna are examples of fatty fish.


The TLC diet can be started by selecting your preferred calorie intake. Men should consume 2,500 calories per day and women should consume 1,800 calories if decreasing LDL cholesterol is your sole concern.

A variety of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are prioritized in the TLC diet. 50 to 60 percent of total calories should come from carbohydrates, largely whole grains. Additionally, only 25–34% of daily calories can come from total fat.

Add 2 grams of stanols, or plant sterols—cholesterol-like substances present naturally in food—and 10 to 25 grams of soluble fiber daily if your LDL cholesterol doesn’t fall by 8 to 10% after six weeks.

LDL is decreased, and soluble fiber, plant stanols, and sterols assist in stopping cholesterol absorption from the digestive system. Vegetable oils, some varieties of margarine, and dietary supplements all include stanols and sterols. Do not forget to exercise in addition to following this diet.


foods that are prohibited by the TLC diet

The TLC diet forbids the consumption of some foods. The following foods can be listed as examples of those:

  • fatty beef slices
  • Finished meats
  • prepared and fried foods
  • Yolk
  • dairy items with added fat
  • Additional salt, sugar, and alcohol
  • lean red beef
  • Dairy items with a lot of fat, such as butter, cream, ice cream, and high-fat cheeses
  • processed meats like sausages and hot dogs
  • Sweets


Disadvantages of the TLC diet

Considering that TLC doesn’t exclude any food groups, experts concur that it is generally beneficial. However, an old diet will work for you. The TLC diet is popular among those seeking to lower their cholesterol and protect their hearts.

However, detractors refer to more current studies that refute some of the beliefs of the regime. It is possible to list the following as TLC diet drawbacks:


Short-term weight loss

The TLC diet is not intended to help you lose weight quickly. Following TLC entails making daily lifestyle adjustments, such as sticking to a particular diet and exercise regimen that might promote weight loss.

According to studies, those with a BMI of 27 or higher who followed a low-carb diet over the course of 12 weeks lost more weight than those who followed the TLC diet.

low rate of weight loss

TLC can help you lose weight over a longer period of time, but it might not be as quickly as some other diets.

Regularly examine nutrition labels.

The TLC diet necessitates careful attention and an aptitude for nutrition label reading. There aren’t many options available to you outside of “The TLC Guide to Lowering Your Cholesterol,” an 80-page guidebook that is available online. Some suggested meal plans without recipes are included in this guide.


Who Is Not Advisable for the TLC Diet?

TLC may not be the best diet for you if all you’re after is quick weight loss rather than improving your cholesterol or lowering your risk of disease. Even though this diet is rather simple, you still need an incentive to stick with it. The quality of your food selection will determine how simple or difficult the TLC diet is for you to follow.


Sample TLC diet

first day

  • Breakfast: Oatmeal with berries and low-fat milk
  • Lunch: Pea and vegetable salad with vinegar and oil
  • Snack: a low-fat yogurt with apples and almonds
  • Dinner: Broccoli and brown rice with salmon


second day

  • Breakfast: Whole-grain cereal with low-fat milk and banana
  • Lunch: Turkey sandwich with whole grain bread, vegetables, and chopped fruit
  • Snack: hummus and vegetables
  • Dinner: Bell peppers stuffed with lean ground beef, quinoa, and beets


third day

  • Breakfast: low-fat yogurt with low-fat granola and berries
  • Lunch: snack with low-fat cheese and vegetables
  • Snack: popcorn and apples
  • Dinner: chicken with vegetables and brown rice


The fourth day

  • Breakfast: egg whites, low-fat cheese, and vegetables with fruit and low-fat yogurt
  • Lunch: Chicken and assorted vegetables, tossed with a low-fat vinaigrette
  • Snack: Whole wheat crackers with low-fat peanut butter and apple slices
  • Dinner: Whole grain pasta with tomato sauce, broccoli, and mini turkey meatballs


the fifth day

  • Breakfast: Smoothie prepared with low-fat milk or vegetable milk and fruit
  • Lunch: Tuna sandwich on whole grain bread with low-fat mayonnaise and carrots
  • Snack: orange and low-fat yogurt
  • Dinner: brown rice and tofu with vegetables and avocado


The sixth day

  • Breakfast: oatmeal with sliced almonds, berries, and low-fat milk
  • Lunch: Ham sandwich on whole grain bread with mustard and lettuce, along with an orange
  • Snack: apple and low-fat string cheese
  • Dinner: Mushroom and vegetable tacos on corn tortillas with avocado and lean refried beans


seventh day

  • Breakfast: Whole wheat toast with low-fat peanut butter and berries
  • Lunch: minestrone soup and vegetable salad with oil and vinegar
  • Snack: whole grain crackers and a slice of low-fat cheese with pear slices and a glass of low-fat milk
  • Dinner: Baked cod with sweet potatoes and green beans



In order to reduce “bad” cholesterol, the TLC diet focuses on how altering eating habits may be beneficial. In the program’s diet component, saturated and trans fats are discouraged, while a focus is placed on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, and seafood.

The TLC diet often has a high carbohydrate intake. This diet promotes increased amounts of plant sterols and stanols, which are prevalent in foods like wheat germ and nuts and are effective at lowering cholesterol.

TLC advises limiting your intake of red meat and meals high in cholesterol, as well as saturated and trans fats. For instance, it advises consuming no more than two eggs weekly.

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