How to Follow the TLC Diet

Start the TLC Diet to lower your LDL cholesterol and lose weight.

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Lower your cholesterol, decrease risk for heart disease, and lose weight with the Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes (TLC) Diet, a weight-loss program created by the National Institute of Health (NIH) and endorsed by the American Heart Association. Following the TLC Diet is simple -- you’ll cut back on saturated fats, incorporate more fiber into your diet, and add regular exercise into your daily routine to get your health back on track.

How It Works:

First, know why you’re starting the TLC Diet to help determine your daily caloric intakes. If the objective is to lower LDL cholesterol, men should consume 2,500 calories per day and women should consume 1,800 calories per day. If the objective is to lower LDL cholesterol and lose weight, men should consume 1,600 calories per day and women should consume 1,200 calories per day.  

There are a few rules from the NIH you’ll need to follow each day when keeping to your calorie count:

  •       Consume less than 7 percent of your daily calories from saturated fat.
  •       Consume less than 200 mg a day of cholesterol.
  •       Consume 25-35 percent of your daily calories from total fat (including the saturated fat calories).
  •       Eat two grams per day of plant stanols or sterols if you want to lower LDL cholesterol. You can find these in things like orange juice, cereal, and granola bars.
  •       Eat 10-25 grams per day of soluble fiber found in things like nuts, seeds, beans, and lentils if you want to lower your LDL cholesterol.
  •       Eat no more than five ounces of meat, preferably skinless chicken or fish.
  •       Eat two to three servings of low-fat or fat-free dairy per day.
  •       Eat three to five servings of vegetables, dry beans, or peas per day.
  •       Eat two to four servings of fruit per day.
  •       Eat six or more servings of breads, cereals, or grains per day.
  •       Eat no more than two egg yolks per week, including the yolks in baked goods and cooked or processed foods.
  •       Consume no more than one alcohol drink a day for women and two for men.

Plus, you should have 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise every day.

Why It Works:

Cutting out bad fat from your diet will help to lower your cholesterol, since fat, especially saturated and trans fat, increases your LDL (bad cholesterol) which increases risk for heart disease. Plus, consuming more soluble fiber is also beneficial, as it can help reduce your risk for heart disease and fills you up so that you’ll eat fewer calories. Overall, eating a healthier diet and getting active for 30 minutes each day will improve your health and help you lose weight.

Talk with your doctor before starting the TLC Diet and follow up with him or her every six weeks for the first three months to track your LDL cholesterol levels, discuss other treatment options, and help guide you through the dieting process. Try to be open with your doctor about any concerns and write down your numbers to track your progress along the way. 

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