The Truth About The TLC Diet

The TLC diet, or the Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes diet, is a diet plan aimed at improving heart health (via Healthline). It was designed by the National Institutes of Health as a healthy eating plan to lower the risk of heart disease and stroke by minimizing levels of LDL, or "bad" cholesterol in the blood. The TLC diet is not a fad diet, but more of a lifestyle change that is meant to be followed long-term. It also emphasizes exercise and weight management to keep the heart healthy.

Guidelines for the TLC diet include keeping calories from fat at 25 to 35 percent of your total daily calories. Saturated fats should be less than 7 percent of total calories and trans fat should be avoided or limited as much as possible (via Cleveland Clinic). Dietary cholesterol should be kept to less than 200 milligrams each day. Complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains, dietary fiber, and lean proteins are also cornerstones of the TLC diet. At least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per day is also recommended.

How to incorporate the TLC diet into your lifestyle

Healthy changes to your diet can be incorporated gradually. Focus on eliminating or reducing foods containing trans fats, such as fried foods, shortening and stick margarine, and baked goods like cakes and pies. Saturated fats, including fatty cuts of meat, skin-on poultry, egg yolks, butter, whole dairy products, palm oil, coconut oil, and sweets and desserts should also be limited. Replace these fats with healthier polyunsaturated and monosaturated fats like olive and canola oils, nuts, nut butters, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, avocados, and olives.

Choose reduced fat dairy products and lean poultry and meats to keep cholesterol intake down. Focus on eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, as well as whole grains. Finally, avoid excess calories by eating four to six small meals and snacks per day but be sure to skip late-night munching. For more advice on how to incorporate healthy diet and lifestyle changes, consult your doctor or a registered dietitian.