Increasing Lean Mass with Phenylketonuria

Hi,

I’m a 32yo male who has been training for 3-4 years now. I am having difficulty in increasing lean body mass and hoping for some advice from more experienced people which may help me make the gains I want.

Firstly, I think my training regime is okay and should be producing more gains than what I have seen so far. I’m 5’6 and 140lbs. That might sound quite weedy and it is.

Before you start shouting to eat more protein, I should say that I have a condition called phenylketonuria (PKU) which means my liver cannot breakdown one of the amino-acids - phenylalanine. As it cannot be stripped out from natural food I have to limit my protein intake to 20g per day through natural eating. The remaining I take through pharmacy supplied supplements.

This by default means that my diet is pretty much high carb, low protein - which is not ideal for putting on lean muscle mass.

I do know that I am able to take supplements which do not contain phenylalanine. I am getting roughly 150g of protein per day - 30g natural and ~120g synthetic via the supplements.

My problem is I just don’t know how to go about altering the protein balance to being more in my favour for body building. I’ve tried asking the instructors at my gym, but they are not really willing to advise me incase they get it wrong and effect my health. My dietition at hospital is only interested in my general health and is also not fully supporting me trying to improve myself.

I really don’t want to waste anymore time training at the gym in futile conditions. My condition is reasonable - there is some definition, but the mass is not there. It is really frustrating and I would love to get some advice on how I can improve my diet.

I appreciate that normal advice handed out on my sites will not apply to me - I find it difficult selecting appropriate supplements as they do not inform if phenylalanine is an ingredient.

Any help or assistance would be greatly appreciated. I’ve ‘wasted’ too many years now training without a properly sorted diet. Sticking to the diet will not be a problem for me - when you are restricted to 15g natural protein per day (7g when 10-15yo) you become well versed in the art of adhering to diets!

Thanks.

You could add Leucine to meals to increase protein synthesis.

You could also take BCAA and/or EAA during training (or with meals) to increase protein intake, and preserve muscle mass during training.

Also, after seeing your age, a product like Alpha Male or TRIBEX could help you to increase your testosterone levels.

I think toby_w hit it on the head… perhaps also look into various vitamins/minerals for deficiencies… ZMA perhaps on that note?

Coconut oil to provide healthy saturated fats?

Just thinking off the top of my head.

What does your current diet look like?

Have you tried eating just amino acid supplements instead of protein. It says in wikipedia that phenylalanine is converted into tyrosine
which in turn is converted into dopamine, norepinehprine and epinehprine.

It doesn’t sound important though it is essential but maybe you could try getting all your proteins from natural food sources, plant sources low in phenylalanine and just eat more different amino acid supplements such as glutamine to prevent stress from high intensity workouts by protecting the body against acidosis and leucine to preserve lean muscle tissue and preserve muscle glucogen. Leucine is also needed in manufacturing other components of your body. Tyrosine is also sold as a supplement.

Supplementing with creatine is something you should be doing. In creatine kinease the molecyle creatine phosphate donates the phosphate group to ADP converting it back to ATP for use as energy in muscle contraction. Creatine is taken a spoonful 3-5 times a day for a month.
Its essential if doing high intensity workouts. Taking creatine with juice raises your insulin levels and speeds up absorption.

Fatty acids with glucogen are a way of energy production in muscles too so eating EFAs is desirable. EFAs keep toxins out and help nurtients work their way into muscle cells and help prevent inflammation.

I think the worst thing that can happen if you overdose these is that you throw up and I think you should be using the maximal amount because of your condition. You should keep an eye on your blood nitrogen balance. It should be positive at all times which amino acid supps if taken enough guarantee.

When going to the gym you should probably train four or six day splits concentrating on isolation exercises and taking it easy with big compound movements training deadlifts and squats just a few times a month. And concentrate on performing the movements technically well giving the muscle enough time under tension. Don’t go high intensity as in running from exercise to exercise and pushing your way through in sweat.

This is just what i think.

[quote]benmoore wrote:
Coconut oil to provide healthy saturated fats?

What does your current diet look like?[/quote]

Thanks for the recommendation - I’ll take a look at coconut oil.

My daily diet would look something like below:

LP = Low Protein

Breakfast:

Branflakes (2g protein)
LP Milk Replacement
1 glass pure orange juice
Protein/Vitamin/Mineral Supplement

Mid Morning:
Coffee (with LP Milk Replacement)
Wheaten bread (3.5g protein)

Lunch:
Wholemeal Pitta Bread (6g protein)
Salad & low fat dressing
Fruit
Peppermint/Green tea
Wheaten bread (3.5g Protein)

Mid afternoon:
Coffee (with LP Milk Replacement)
1/2 Slice Pitta bread (3g protein)
Fruit
Protein/Vitamin/Mineral Supplement

Pre training:
BCAA & Kre Alkalyn

Post training:
BCAA

Dinner: (7g Protein)
Either

  1. Potatoes & selection of Veg
  2. Pasta, tomato based sauce with some veg
  3. Wholemeal rice with stir fried veg

Supper:
Tea
Protein/Vitamin/Mineral Supplement

[quote]toby_w wrote:
You could add Leucine to meals to increase protein synthesis.

You could also take BCAA and/or EAA during training (or with meals) to increase protein intake, and preserve muscle mass during training.[/quote]

I take Scivation Xtend as a supplement prior (1 scoop), during (2 scoops) and post training (1scoop). (1 scoop = 6.5 grammes BCAA).

[quote]juanke wrote:
Have you tried eating just amino acid supplements instead of protein. It says in wikipedia that phenylalanine is converted into tyrosine
which in turn is converted into dopamine, norepinehprine and epinehprine. [/quote]

My problem is that I don’t know what supplements are best to take. There is a myriad of them out there. The one supplement I can obtain from my doctor is called Phlexy-10. One sachet of it provide me with:

Calories 69 kcal

Fat, total 0 g
Carbohydrates 8.8 g
Fiber 0 g

Tryptophan 220 mg
Threonine 540 mg
Isoleucine 640 mg
Leucine 1090 mg
Lysine 740 mg
Methionine 170 mg
Cystine 270 mg
Phenylalanine 0 mg
Tyrosine 970 mg
Valine 700 mg
Arginine 720 mg
Histidine 410 mg
Alanine 410 mg
Aspartic acid 680 mg
Glycine 640 mg
Proline 770 mg
Serine 470 mg
Taurine 14 mg
Carnitine 7 mg
Glutamine 500 mg
Amino Acids 10 g

Protein Equivalent 8.33 g

How much of this would I be required to take per day?

Another supplement provided to me by my doctor is Lophlex ( nutritional content here: shs-nutrition.com is for sale | HugeDomains). I take 3x125ml sachets per day of this.

I’m not 100% sure what you are saying here but it is not possible for me to get 140g of protein per day from natural food sources - only the 20g/25g. Phenylalanine is naturally occurring in all protein foods so I have to limit my intake.

[quote]Supplementing with creatine is something you should be doing. In creatine kinease the molecyle creatine phosphate donates the phosphate group to ADP converting it back to ATP for use as energy in muscle contraction. Creatine is taken a spoonful 3-5 times a day for a month.
Its essential if doing high intensity workouts. Taking creatine with juice raises your insulin levels and speeds up absorption.[/quote]

Sorry - there seems to be many holes in my original post. Yes, I take creatine, Kre Alkalyn prior to every training session. Is it normal for when you take a break from training (>3 weeks) for your muscle size to shrink noticeably?

Is it only fish that have EFA’s? If so that will be another supplement for me to take. I might end up having a multitude of supplements to take! Can you think of any naturally occurring foods which would be low in protein (bearing in mind I can only eat 25g protein per day) which I can use to good effect?

My blood is monitored every month by hospital, so I think most things should be easily detectable :slight_smile:

[quote]When going to the gym you should probably train four or six day splits concentrating on isolation exercises and taking it easy with big compound movements training deadlifts and squats just a few times a month. And concentrate on performing the movements technically well giving the muscle enough time under tension. Don’t go high intensity as in running from exercise to exercise and pushing your way through in sweat.

This is just what i think.[/quote]

Presently, I’m doing a three day split with one day where I do a class such as curcuits or TRX Suspension in order to keep my aerobic abilty ticking over.

[quote]benmoore wrote:
I think toby_w hit it on the head… perhaps also look into various vitamins/minerals for deficiencies… ZMA perhaps on that note?
[/quote]

Take a look at the Lophlex LQ supplement facts in the link in the post above. I get a good sprecturm of minerals in order to compensate for the limited natural diet. The vits and minerals are montiored by my doctor/dietition.

I would definitely add leucine to meals, to make the most of the protein you do eat.
https://www.tmuscle.com/free_online_article/special_reports/special_report_unleash_the_full_anabolic_potential_of_food

[quote]ravedave wrote:

[quote]juanke wrote:
Have you tried eating just amino acid supplements instead of protein. It says in wikipedia that phenylalanine is converted into tyrosine
which in turn is converted into dopamine, norepinehprine and epinehprine. [/quote]

My problem is that I don’t know what supplements are best to take. There is a myriad of them out there. The one supplement I can obtain from my doctor is called Phlexy-10. One sachet of it provide me with:

Calories 69 kcal

Fat, total 0 g
Carbohydrates 8.8 g
Fiber 0 g

Tryptophan 220 mg
Threonine 540 mg
Isoleucine 640 mg
Leucine 1090 mg
Lysine 740 mg
Methionine 170 mg
Cystine 270 mg
Phenylalanine 0 mg
Tyrosine 970 mg
Valine 700 mg
Arginine 720 mg
Histidine 410 mg
Alanine 410 mg
Aspartic acid 680 mg
Glycine 640 mg
Proline 770 mg
Serine 470 mg
Taurine 14 mg
Carnitine 7 mg
Glutamine 500 mg
Amino Acids 10 g

Protein Equivalent 8.33 g

How much of this would I be required to take per day?

Another supplement provided to me by my doctor is Lophlex ( nutritional content here: shs-nutrition.com is for sale | HugeDomains). I take 3x125ml sachets per day of this.[/quote]

There are nine essential amino acids (one of 'em is phenylalanine) and 12 nonessential amino acids. What I mean is how about eating like you eat now and get the 20g/25g of protein. After just experiment with amino acid supplements. Proteins are broken down into amino acids in the stomach eventually so why not just eat amino acid supplements. Those put less stress on the liver and do practically the same thing as if you were eating protein supps. I’m not going through that list for you and I can’t tell you how much to take because I don’t know but enough to cover your 140g of protein intake.

[quote]

I’m not 100% sure what you are saying here but it is not possible for me to get 140g of protein per day from natural food sources - only the 20g/25g. Phenylalanine is naturally occurring in all protein foods so I have to limit my intake.[/quote]

Yes, it is not possible for you to get 140g of protein from natural food sources but eat those amino acid supps. I don’t know if anyones ever tried it but fundamentally it is the same thing. Wikipedia says that phenylalanine is converted into Tyrosine and used for different purposes. Eat tyrosine supps instead of phenylalanine.

[quote]

Is it only fish that have EFA’s? If so that will be another supplement for me to take. I might end up having a multitude of supplements to take! Can you think of any naturally occurring foods which would be low in protein (bearing in mind I can only eat 25g protein per day) which I can use to good effect?[/quote]

You are gonna end up with multitude of supplements for sure. I don’t know any natural sources but I think I read some plant sources are LOW in phenylalanine

Thanks guys for the replies. Juanke - sorry I think I misintrepreted some of your post. Yes - I’ll start looking into some amino acid supplements and see what fits best!

I’ll also look at leucine - it might help boost what protein I do take…

Bottom line is you need protein to grow.

See if you could get a protein powder without phenylalanine.

I know there are some places online where you can buy individual amino acids in bulk powder form you could just get all of the AAs except phenylalanine.

It wouldn’t be cheap but it seems like it oughta work.

If that doesn’t work for you, BCAAs by the truckload would be my next suggestion.

Hi,

Just thought I’d post back up some progress - thanks for all the advice. I’m no taking 6 sachets per training day of the Phlexy-10 supplement.

I’m now doing 90kg squats (reps of 5), Deadlifts at 110kg (reps of 5) and benching 70kg (reps of 2) @ 63.5kg bodyweight - meaning I am doing:

Squat @ 1.42 x bodyweight
DL @ 1.73 x bodyweight
Bench @ 1.1 x bodyweight

I am now also doing 3x8 pull ups…

The beginings are there. I just need to push on a bit and get my bench moving forward. I’d also like to strip down some fat as well, but I was hoping with muscle gain this would drop off.

Anyhow, thanks for the advice. I just now need to improve my 3 day split routine and I’ll be flying :slight_smile: