The Most Effective Weight Loss Plan

It doesn’t have a sexy name, nor does it promise to score you a revenge body. But that hasn’t kept the TLC diet from trending big and getting a nutritional thumbs-up from experts. This best diet rankings for 2017, scoring the fourth slot for best diets overall and 18th for best weight loss diets.

Short for Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes, the TLC diet aims to boost heart health by optimizing your cholesterol levels—and might also result in weight loss, says Maggie Moon, R.D.N.

Though the plan focuses on food, physical activity, and weight management, the biggest emphasis is on making smart menu choices.

Since researchers at the National Institutes of Health developed the plan in 2001, the American Heart Association has endorsed it,

To find out if the TLC diet is something you should try, take a look at our cheat sheet.

This is not a deprivation plan. The TLC diet calls for filling your plate with a variety of plant products and low-fat animal protein sources based on what makes your taste buds happy:

• Fruit: two to four servings per day

• Vegetables or dry beans/peas: three to five servings per day

• Grains, such as rice and whole wheat: six or more servings per day

• Low-fat or fat-free dairy, like 1 percent milk: two to three servings per day

• Lean meat, fish, or poultry: five or less ounces a day (about the size of two uncracked eggs)

• Unsaturated fats/oils: in moderation according to your calorie needs

• Dessert: Yes! But only low saturated-fat sweets, like fro-yo and Jell-O.

Sticking to this menu plan can raise your HDL cholesterol level; this is the “good” cholesterol that keeps your risk of heart disease in check. You’ll also lower your LDL cholesterol, the harmful kind that can put you in line for heart disease, she adds. It’s important to remember that the point of the TLC plan is to manage cholesterol, and though dropping pounds is often part of that, not everyone needs to shed lbs to make that happen.

Like most diets, the TLC diet requires keeping an eye on calories, which is a no-brainer if you’re trying to weight loss .However, the exact calorie range you should try to hit per day depends on your height, weight, and activity level.

Everyone who goes on TLC does need to crunch numbers though. The main rules: Only 25 to 35 percent of your daily calories should come from fat. Less than 7 percent of your daily calories should come from saturated fat sources (like butter, cheese, and meat), and you’re limited to no more than 200 mg of cholesterol per day—that’s a little more than what’s in one large egg (178 mg). The TLC diet “is very specific, and requires a lot of label reading and calculations, which may be challenging to stick to,” says Moon.

On the other hand, the exercise requirements are super straightforward: a minimum of 30 minutes of moderately intense (a.k.a. you break a light sweat) physical activity, like brisk walking, on most days of the week.

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