Indirect Calorimetry: The 6 Main Issues

Clinical Nutrition. 2021 Jan; 40(1):4-14. doi: 10.1016/j.clnu.2020.06.024. Epub 2020 Jul 2.
Achamrah, N., Delsoglio, M., De Waele, E., Berger, M. M., & Pichard, C.


Background and Aims: Optimal nutritional therapy, including the individually adapted provision of energy, is associated with better clinical outcomes. Indirect calorimetry is the best tool to measure and monitor energy expenditure and hence optimize the energy prescription. Similarly to other medical techniques, indications and contra-indications must be acknowledged to optimise the use of indirect calorimetry in clinical routine. Measurements should be repeated to enable adaptation to the clinical evolution, as energy expenditure may change substantially. This review aims at providing clinicians with the knowledge to routinely use indirect calorimetry and interpret the results.

Method: We performed a bibliographic research of publications referenced in PubMed using the following terms: "indirect calorimetry", "energy expenditure", "resting energy expenditure", "VCO2", "VO2", "nutritional therapy". We included mainly studies published in the last ten years, related to indirect calorimetry principles, innovations, patient's benefits, clinical use in practice and medico-economic aspects.

Results: We have gathered the knowledge required for routine use of indirect calorimetry in clinical practice and interpretation of the results. A few clinical cases illustrate the decision-making process around its application for prescription, and individual optimisation of nutritional therapy. We also describe the latest technical innovations and the results of tailoring nutrition therapy according to the measured energy expenditure in medico-economic benefits.

Conclusion: The routine use of indirect calorimetry should be encouraged as a strategy to optimize nutrition care.

Information NutriBib

Reference work for leading, current and selected literature in the field of clinical nutrition

Publications on clinical nutrition have grown steadily in recent years and the scientific evidence has been improved by numerous observational as well as intervention studies. Various umbrella organisations, such as the Swiss Society for Clinical Nutrition (GESKES), the German Society for Nutritional Medicine (DGEM) or the European Society for Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism (ESPEN) publish guidelines on nutrition in various clinical situations at regular intervals. Thus, a large amount of literature is available for evidence-based nutritional medicine.

The NutriBib aims to filter out authoritative publications in the various fields of nutritional medicine and thus to provide an overview of the abundance of literature. A large number of experienced nutrition experts contributed to the selection of relevant sources and allow a broadly based selection. Nevertheless, the literature selection cannot be considered exhaustive. Specific literature can be found by entering search words (using the magnifying glass at the top right) or by searching the table of contents.

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List of abbreviations

DGEM German Society for Nutritional Medicine (German Deutsche Gesellschaft für Ernährungsmedizin)
GESKES  Swiss Society for Clinical Nutrition (German Gesellschaft für klinische Ernährung der Schweiz) 
ESPEN European Society of Clinicl Nutrition and Metabolism