Fact sheetDiet specifications

Published on 1 Nov 2011

Protein diet - phenylalanine - low (PKU)

This document is part of the ACI Diet Specifications for Adult Inpatients. It is not to be used for patient education.


To provide a diet extremely low in phenylalanine, in order to reduce a high blood level to the desired range of 2-10mg/dL.


The diet eliminates all foods containing significant levels of protein (meat, poultry, fish, milk, yoghurt, cheese, eggs, nuts, seeds, legumes and peanut butter). Recommended foods are phenylalanine-free formula / medical formula to provide adequate protein (e.g. Easiphen, Lophlex, Phenyl-Free, Phenex) plus fruits, vegetables, and low-protein bread or cereal products.



Nutritional adequacy

This is a highly restrictive diet, and is not nutritionally complete. Depending on the type of special metabolic formula used, the suggested food plan may need a multivitamin and a calcium supplement.


Must only be used when ordered by a physician and under the supervision of a dietitian. A dietitian will establish the daily phenylalanine level permitted from foods in the diet.


Not suitable for use in paediatrics.

Specific menu planning guidelines

 Allowed Not allowed
Hot main dishesNone -
Sauces, graviesNone -
Starchy vegetables / pasta / rice

All starchy vegetables

Low-protein pasta


Regular pasta
VegetablesAll othersLegumes
SoupsLow-protein soups (e.g. clear tomato soup made with water)Meat-based soups
SandwichesNone -
Salads, dressings

Green salad

All dressings

Cheese, meat, fish, egg, baked beans, peanut butter
Breads, cereals

Low-protein bread

Rice Bubbles®, Corn Flakes®, Coco Pops®

All others
SpreadsAll othersPeanut butter
Hot breakfast choicesNone -
FruitAll fruit -
Yoghurt-All yoghurt
DessertsJellyMilk-based desserts
Milk and cheeseNon-dairy creamerMilk and cheese

Tea, coffee

Fruit juice, soft drink, cordial

Milk, Milo®

Beverages containing aspartame

BiscuitsLow-protein biscuits onlyCommercial biscuits

Special metabolic formula

Low-protein dishes (e.g. pasta)

Low-protein biscuits

Cream, sugar, hard lollies




  1. Poustie VJ, Wildgoose J. Dietary interventions for phenylketonuria. Cochrane Database of Sys Rev 2010;(1):CD001304.
  2. Food Standards Australia New Zealand. NUTTAB 2006 Online version:foods that contain phenylalanine. [accessed 10 June 2010]
  3. American Dietetic Association. Nutrition care manual. Chicago: ADA; 2009. [accessed 10 June 2010].
  4. Mahon LK, Escott-Stump S. Krause’s food and nutrition therapy. 12th ed. St Louis: Saunders Elsevier; 2008.
  5. Maher AK, editor; Iowa Dietetic Association. Simplified diet manual. 10th ed. Ames: Blackwell; 2007.
  6. Dolan BE, Koch R, Bekins C, Schuett V. Diet intervention guidelines for adults with untreated PKU.
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