The Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes Diet – better known as the TLC Diet – has been named one of the best diet plans used to lower cholesterol. It was developed by the National Institutes of Health’s National Cholesterol Education Program and supported by the American Heart Association. The premise of the diet plan is to reduce the amount of saturated fat found in meats, whole-milk, dairy, and fried foods that contribute to the increase of LDL or bad cholesterol. Bad cholesterol increases your risk of heart attacks and strokes.
How the TLC Diet Controls Cholesterol
LDL cholesterol is considered bad cholesterol because of its ability to carry cholesterol through the blood stream; its waxy plaque-like composure can allow it to stick to the cardiovascular walls and arteries causing narrowing passageways and blockages. The TLC diet contains three modules that help people make lifestyle changes to lower cholesterol and also lose weight.
The first and most important component of the TLC diet plan is making changes in your diet. By restricting the intake of saturated fat, trans-fat and cholesterol and replacing those foods with fruits, vegetables and whole grains, you will decrease your cholesterol and being losing weight.
The second module of the TLC diet is weight management. Just by losing weight you can lower your LDL and reduce your risks of heart disease.
Last but not least, a component of the healthiest diet plan is adding exercise to your daily routine. The TLC diet plan recommends that you get at least 30 minutes of exercise each day.
How to Use This Strategy
The Diet Plan:
- Less than 7% of the calories consumed come from saturated fat
- Less than 200mg of dietary cholesterol is consumed daily
- Between 25%-30% of calories consumed are fat calories (unsaturated)
To begin the diet, women should reduce the number of calories consumed to 1800 calories, and 2500 for 2500 for men. If you are also looking to lose weight, try reducing calorie consumption further, for women no less than 1200 and for men, no less than 1600. This alone should cause your cholesterol levels to be reduced by 8%-10% in 4-6 weeks.
Dietary Recommendations for the TLC Diet
Some of the dietary recommendations are listed below:
- Meats- lean meat, skinless poultry, fish, and beans- reduce the intake of these foods to 4-6oz. per day
- Eggs- consume no more than 2 egg yolks per week. Egg whites are preferred they have little cholesterol
- Milk- consume 3-2 servings each day of low fat or no fat milk products
- Fruits- eat 2-4 servings per day, including fruit juices
- Vegetables- eat 3-5 servings each day including raw leafy greens, raw or cooked vegetables and vegetable juices
- Whole Grains/carbohydrates- consume at least 6 servings each day
- Snacks- keep all snacks within calorie, cholesterol and fat levels, try and choose foods made with unsaturated fat
Is This Eating Strategy Right for You?
While the TLC Diet was developed by experts in their fields, and it has received considerable praise as a dietary strategy for cholesterol control, this doesn’t necessarily mean that it is appropriate for everyone. Before making major changes to you the way you eat, it is important to talk things out with your doctor or even a dietitian.
This will help you to know that you’re making nutrition choices that suit your body’s unique requirements. Your doctor may tell you that the TLC Diet is just right for achieving that goal, may recommend a few tweaks to ensure that your needs are met using a version of that strategy, or may have an alternative in mind that would suit you better but that you hadn’t yet considered. It’s worth your while to talk to a medical expert to ensure your lifestyle changes will be safe for you and will take you in the direction you want to go.