The feeding of critically ill patients has recently become a controversial issue, as several studies have provided unexpected and contradictory results. Earlier beliefs regarding energy requirements in critical illness—especially during the initial phase—have been challenged. In the current review, we summarize existing evidence about fasting and the impact of early vs. late feeding on the sick organism’s responses. The most important points are the non-nutritional advantages of using the intestine, and recognition that early endogenous energy production as an important player in the response must be integrated in the nutrient prescription. There is as of yet no bedside tool to monitor dynamics in metabolism and the magnitude of the endogenous energy production. Hence, an early “full-feeding strategy” exposes patients to involuntary overfeeding, due to the absence of an objective measure enabling the adjustment of the nutritional therapy. Suggestions for future research and clinical practice are proposed.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited