High-protein hypocaloric vs normocaloric enteral nutrition in critically ill patients: A randomized clinical trial

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Appropriate caloric intake in critically ill patients receiving enteral nutrition is controversial. This study evaluates the impact of different caloric regimens on severity of organ failure measured with Sequential Organ Failure Assessment (SOFA).

Materials and methods:

We conducted a randomized prospective controlled trial. Study population included adult intensive care unit (ICU) patients expected to require enteral nutrition for more than 96 hours. Goals in the intervention group were hypocaloric (15 kcal/kg per day) enteral nutrition compared to normocaloric (25 kcal/kg per day) enteral nutrition, both with hyperproteic intake (1.7 g of protein/kg per day). Primary end point was change in SOFA score (ΔSOFA) from baseline at 48 hours. Secondary end points were ΔSOFA at 96 hours, insulin requirements, hyperglycemia or hypoglycemic episodes, length of ICU stay, days on ventilator, and 28-day mortality.


After screening 443 patients, 120 patients were analyzed. There were no differences between groups in baseline characteristics. We did not find a statistically significant difference in ΔSOFA at 48 hours. Patients in the hypocaloric group showed lower average daily insulin requirements and percentage of patients requiring any insulin.


Hyperproteic, hypocaloric nutrition did not show different outcomes compared to normocaloric nutrition, except lower insulin requirements. Hypocaloric nutrition could provide a more physiologic approach with lower need for care and metabolic impact.

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