PKU and overall health and wellness can and should go hand in hand. Tackling weight issues (both fat loss and weight gain), the building of muscle mass and overall fitness and endurance can be a little trickier when you're living with a protein restricted diet, but it's certainly not impossible.
Let me tell you a little bit about me. I am 32 and I have classical PKU. I'm also a personal trainer, fitness instructor, Pilates teacher and sports nutritionist. My clients include a couple of people who, like me, have PKU. I wasn't always fit (after the birth of my first daughter I was 140kg/308lb), and I'm still working on fat loss, but that is for another time.
Weight management (whether you want to get bigger or smaller) on a diet can certainly be challenging, especially with a low tolerance. Any woman who has been on the preconception diet or has been pregnant will tell you that. However, it's not impossible. Likewise, building muscle isn't impossible, but we do have to be a little bit more dedicated to the scientific side of exercise physiology and also to our nutrition if we want to achieve results. Today I'm going to focus on fat loss as I meet a large number of PKU patients who have this goal in particular.
Something I tell all of my clients is this: The scales may not (and at times definitely won't) reflect your progress. Tracking your body fat percentage and your measurements is a far more accurate indication of progress than stepping on the scales. Last year doing bodyweight High Intensity Interval Training I lost almost 3 dress sizes, 8% body fat and... 1.5kg. People kept commenting how much weight I'd lost, but I hadn't lost weight. I had lost fat and gained muscle, which is awesome! I often don't even tell my clients their scale weight. There is no reason to be a slave to the scales. Similarly, it's no secret these days that BMI is a flawed system (but don't get me started on that!).
For us to achieve fat loss, several things have to happen at the same time. You need:
However, no matter what anyone tells you, fat loss is not as simple as calories in vs calories out. The source of your calories is an important factor, as is the regularity and timing of when we take our protein substitute and what kinds of exercises we do.
Let me start by saying this: The tips in this article should in no way replace the advice given to you by your dietician. He or she is your first port of call for anything when it comes to food, but here are some tricks and tips I have learned from my training in the fitness industry and my own experiences with both myself and my clients.
Fat loss with PKU can be challenging, but the sense of achievement is huge! Don't be afraid to ask for help, but most importantly, don't give up. I did it, I am still doing it, and so can you! There is also a great amount of support on social media from people with PKU who are going through their own fitness journey. Make use of that.
I'm always happy to speak with other PKU patients about health, fitness and wellness, so feel free to contact me via Facebook or email email@example.com.
See you in the gym!