Metabolic response to injury and illness: estimation of energy and protein needs from indirect calorimetry and nitrogen balance

JPEN J Parenter Enteral Nutr. 1979 Nov-Dec;3(6):452-6. doi: 10.1177/014860717900300609.


The metabolic response to injury and illness as manifested by increases in energy expenditure and nitrogen losses makes it difficult for the clinician to evaluate calorie and protein needs. A method for determining daily calorie needs in hospitalized patients is presented. Average increases in resting metabolic expenditure for a group of patients following elective operation, skeletal trauma, skeletal trauma with head injury, blunt trauma, sepsis and burns were determined by indirect calorimetry and protein need by urinary nitrogen losses over extended time periods. Total daily calorie needs were then calculated, using the Harris-Benedict equation and adjusting this value upward using a previously measured activity and injury factor to arrive at the daily needs. Protein requirements may be determined on periodic 24 hour urine samples analyzed for the urinary urea nitrogen and adjusting this to a total nitrogen or protein equivalent. This approach to estimating the calorie nitrogen needs of the hospitalized patient under various degrees of stress more closely approximates the patient's variable needs at the height of the catabolic response and during convalescence.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Basal Metabolism
  • Burns / metabolism
  • Calorimetry, Indirect
  • Dietary Proteins*
  • Disease*
  • Energy Metabolism*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Nitrogen / metabolism*
  • Nutritional Physiological Phenomena*
  • Sepsis
  • Sex Factors
  • Surgical Procedures, Operative*
  • Wounds and Injuries / metabolism


  • Dietary Proteins
  • Nitrogen