Nutrition guidelines for critically ill adults admitted with COVID-19: Is there consensus?

Clin Nutr ESPEN. 2021 Aug;44:69-77. doi: 10.1016/j.clnesp.2021.05.003. Epub 2021 May 25.


Introduction: The Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has overwhelmed hospital systems globally, resulting in less experienced staff caring for critically ill patients within the intensive care unit (ICU). Many guidelines have been developed to guide nutrition care.

Aim: To identify key guidelines or practice recommendations for nutrition support practices in critically ill adults admitted with COVID-19, to describe similarities and differences between recommendations, and to discuss implications for clinical practice.

Methods: A literature review was conducted to identify guidelines affiliated with or endorsed by international nutrition societies or dietetic associations which included recommendations for the nutritional management of critically ill adult patients with COVID-19. Data were extracted on pre-defined key aspects of nutritional care including nutrition prescription, delivery, monitoring and workforce recommendations, and key similarities and discrepancies, as well as implications for clinical practice were summarized.

Results: Ten clinical practice guidelines were identified. Similar recommendations included: the use of high protein, volume restricted enteral formula delivered gastrically and commenced early in ICU and introduced gradually, while taking into consideration non-nutritional calories to avoid overfeeding. Specific advice for patients in the prone position was common, and non-intubated patients were highlighted as a population at high nutritional risk. Major discrepancies included the use of indirect calorimetry to guide energy targets and advice around using gastric residual volumes (GRVs) to monitor feeding tolerance.

Conclusion: Overall, common recommendations around formula type and route of feeding exist, with major discrepancies being around the use of indirect calorimetry and GRVs, which reflect international ICU nutrition guidelines.

Keywords: COVID-19; Dietitian; Enteral nutrition; Guideline; Nutrition support; Recommendations.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19 / complications*
  • Consensus
  • Critical Care / methods*
  • Critical Illness
  • Humans
  • Malnutrition / complications*
  • Malnutrition / prevention & control*
  • Nutrition Policy*
  • Nutritional Requirements*
  • Nutritional Status
  • SARS-CoV-2