What is the TLC Diet?

The TLC (Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes) diet was developed in 2001 in the USA by the National Cholesterol Education Program. It was designed with the aim of helping people lower cholesterol levels and therefore reduce the risk of heart attacks and other heart diseases. It is a program that involves diet, exercise, and other lifestyle changes in order to enhance better health. TLC is also endorsed by the American Heart Association.

Overview of the guidelines

It involves the consumption of calories that are needed to maintain an ideal body weight. A nutritionist or a doctor should be able to determine the daily calorie intake that a person should take. However, this usually depends on height, sex, activity level of an individual among other factors.

According to TLC guidelines, the following should be observed:

– The consumption of saturated fat should be kept below 7% of the total calories consumed by an individual in a day. The overall fat intake should be between 25 and 35% of the calories consumed each day.

– The total daily cholesterol intake should be less than 200 milligrams.

– The recommended amount of sodium intake per day should not exceed 2400 mg.
– Physical activity should be increased to a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise per day every week.
– People also need to increase the amount of soluble fiber in their diet as well as fruits and vegetables.

How the TLC Diet Works

TLC Diet recipe - Heart healthy nutrition

Saturated fats in our diet are responsible for increasing bad cholesterol in the body according to findings from research. The TLC program was designed with the aim of reducing the amount of saturated fats that we consume to help lower cholesterol.

For this diet plan to work effectively, we should replace saturated fats with unsaturated ones. Both types should not be consumed at the same time.

There are various sources of saturated fats including animal products like meat, dairy, and eggs. Another source includes some plants like palm and coconut. Some processed foods including peanut butter are very rich in saturated fats and their consumption should be limited or avoided altogether. Saturated fats are solid at room temperature.

On the other hand, unsaturated fats are always in liquid form at room temperature. They include peanut oil, canola oil, and olive oil.

Does it promote weight loss?

It is important to bear in mind that this diet was meant to lower cholesterol levels and not for weight loss. However, research shows that low-fat diets generally promote weight loss.

Health benefits

– It is a heart-healthy diet: a food plan that involves the consumption of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains and at the same time light on salt and saturated fats, is one of the best ways to maintain low cholesterol levels, keep blood pressure in check, and avoid heart diseases.

– It prevents type 2 diabetes: Most experts agree that a diet plan such as the one promoted by TLC helps prevent diabetes because it promotes the consumption of the right foods while discouraging the consumption wrong ones.

Health risk

There is no known health risk that has been associated with this diet program. It can also be safely adopted by children and teenagers.

Conformity to accepted dietary guidelines

The TLC diet conforms to all dietary guidelines for all categories of foods including fats, proteins, carbohydrates, and salt. It also conforms to dietary guidelines for other key nutrients including fiber, potassium, calcium, Vitamin B-12, and Vitamin D.

Restrictions and Preferences

It is possible to customize this food plan to specific needs bearing in mind that the bulk of the diet consists of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, which are all staple foods for vegans and vegetarians. People who cannot tolerate gluten should go for gluten-free proteins such as lentils, beans, nuts, and lean meat.

Role of exercise

The TLC program involves 30 minutes of exercise every day for 5 days per week. These moderate – intensity workouts help to lower the risk of heart diseases as well as diabetes. They also help in weight loss and as well as increasing energy levels.

Pros for this diet

– It is easy to follow and very simple.
– It helps lower cholesterol levels.
– It is suitable for almost everybody.


– It emphasizes more on lowering cholesterol as opposed to weight loss.
– It makes people feel hungry if they follow the diet strictly.
– People need to learn how to read labels on food items for information on nutrients. They also need to know how to calculate the percentages of saturated fats contained in the food they eat.
– Sometimes one may still need to take cholesterol-lowering medications.

Medical Disclaimer

Although we base our articles on recent scientific researches, the content on CholesterolMenu.com should not be considered as medical advice or a recommendation for medical treatment, but as educational and informational articles that are strictly the personal opinion of CholesterolMenu.com's authors. As the reader, you are recommended to consult your doctor to discuss any health issues and treatments. We shall not be held responsible or liable for possible health consequences from following the information in our articles.