Nutritional therapy is one of the important treatments in critically ill patients. How to estimate calorie consumption and how to determine an optimal calorie dose are clinical questions of great importance. Although indirect calorimetry is the gold standard for assessing energy expenditure, many intensivists are unable to use this technique. Therefore, the use of formulas, such as the Harris-Benedict equation, or the simple predictive value of 25 kcal/kg/day is reasonable. Several studies and guidelines have shown that the strategies for nutritional therapy depend on the nutritional risk of patients. If patients have low nutritional risks, these estimated values should not be adopted in the acute phase. Until the patient's condition improves, less than 18 kcal/kg/day might be an optimal calorie target. Contrastingly, cumulative negative energy balance can also be harmful to critically ill patients. Thus, it is important to accurately determine the energy requirement and to make the required changes in the administered calorie dose to go from a strategy of "defense" to that of "offense" in a timely manner. In this article, the concepts of optimal calorie administration in critically ill patients were reviewed.
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