Feasibility of achieving different protein targets using a hypocaloric high-protein enteral formula in critically ill patients

Pierre Singer*, Itai Bendavid, Ilana BenArie, Liran Stadlander, Ilya Kagan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background and aims: Combining energy and protein targets during the acute phase of critical illness is challenging. Energy should be provided progressively to reach targets while avoiding overfeeding and ensuring sufficient protein provision. This prospective observational study evaluated the feasibility of achieving protein targets guided by 24-h urinary nitrogen excretion while avoiding overfeeding when administering a high protein-to-energy ratio enteral nutrition (EN) formula. Methods: Critically ill adult mechanically ventilated patients with an APACHE II score > 15, SOFA > 4 and without gastrointestinal dysfunction received EN with hypocaloric content for 7 days. Protein need was determined by 24-h urinary nitrogen excretion, up to 1.2 g/kg (Group A, N = 10) or up to 1.5 g/kg (Group B, N = 22). Variables assessed included nitrogen intake, excretion, balance; resting energy expenditure (REE); phase angle (PhA); gastrointestinal tolerance of EN. Results: Demographic characteristics of groups were similar. Protein target was achieved using urinary nitrogen excretion measurements. Nitrogen balance worsened in Group A but improved in Group B. Daily protein and calorie intake and balance were significantly increased in Group B compared to Group A. REE was correlated to PhA measurements. Gastric tolerance of EN was good. Conclusions: Achieving the protein target using urinary nitrogen loss up to 1.5 g/kg/day was feasible in this hypercatabolic population. Reaching a higher protein and calorie target did not induce higher nitrogen excretion and was associated with improved nitrogen balance and a better energy intake without overfeeding. PhA appears to be related to REE and may reflect metabolism level, suggestive of a new phenotype for nutritional status. Trial registration 0795-18-RMC.

Original languageEnglish
Article number204
JournalCritical Care
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2021


FundersFunder number
Fresenius Kabi


    • Critical illness
    • Enteral nutrition
    • High protein
    • Intensive care unit
    • Nitrogen excretion
    • Protein target


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