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Exploring the Link Between Energy Provision and ICU Length of Stay

In the world of intensive care, the quest for optimal patient outcomes is a constant endeavor. A recent study has turned the spotlight on a factor that may have unintended consequences – excess energy provision. Join us as we explore the complex relationship between nutrition, energy balance, protein provision and its potential impact on the length of stay in the intensive care unit (ICU).

The Balancing Act of Nutrition in Critical Care:
Nutritional support is a cornerstone of care in the ICU, designed to fuel the body’s healing processes and support recovery. However, recent research, including a study published in the Journal of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition, challenges the conventional wisdom by suggesting that too much of a good thing – excess energy provision – might contribute to a longer stay in the ICU.

The retrospective cohort study was conducted using patients from a single ICU.  Participant’s energy surplus was measured using indirect calorimetry and nutritional intake.  Across 30 patients increased ICU length of stay was correlated with actual daily energy intake surplus to resting energy expenditure.   In essence, the study raises questions about the how we assess and provide energy needs.  While ensuring patients are supported nutritionally is crucial, it appears that an excessive intake of energy might not necessarily translate into quicker recovery or shorter ICU stays.  Adding the complexity of meeting protein needs without overfeeding calories provides another layer of challenges to this already complex group.

A Call for Individualized Nutrition Plans:
One of the key takeaways from this discussion is the importance of tailoring nutritional support to individual patient needs. A one-size-fits-all approach may not be optimal in the dynamic and diverse landscape of critical care. Healthcare providers may need to reevaluate and fine-tune nutritional strategies based on a patient’s specific condition, metabolic state, and recovery trajectory.  One way to navigate this process more easily with the enterally fed population is through protein modulars.

ProSource TF, ProSource TF Free and now ProSource TF20 allow for easy adjustments to nutritional plans to ensure patients meet protein needs while also considering energy provision.  Because all three enterally focused protein modulars are formulated with this specific patient population in mind, they put protein provision first, allowing for an easier to implement intervention while keep energy provision in mind.

The Road Ahead:
In the evolving field of intensive care, every detail matters. Assessing energy needs, protein provision and provision of energy all demands a closer look. While this study highlights the importance of nutrition intervention practices and protocols, more research is needed to refine our understanding for improved patient outcomes in the ICU.


Page, A., Langan, A., Wan, Y. I., McNelly, A., Prowle, J., Pearse, R., & Puthucheary, Z. (2024). Association between energy surplus and intensive care unit length of stay in critically ill patients: A retrospective cohort study. JPEN. Journal of parenteral and enteral nutrition48(2), 206–214.

Mcclave, S. A., Taylor, B. E., Martindale, R. G., Warren, M. M., Johnson, D. R., Braunschweig, C., Compher, C. (2016). Guidelines for the Provision and Assessment of Nutrition Support Therapy in the Adult Critically Ill Patient. Journal of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition,40(2), 159-211. doi:10.1177/0148607115621863

Taylor, S., Dumont, N., Clemente, R., Allan, K., Downer, C., & Mitchell, A. (2016). Critical care: Meeting protein requirements without overfeeding energy. Clinical Nutrition ESPEN,11. doi:10.1016/j.clnesp.2015.12.003

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