Energy expenditure (EE) is the sum of metabolic activity within the body at a given time and comprises basal EE, diet-induced thermogenesis, and physical activity. In the intensive care unit, EE is most often assessed to determine a patient’s caloric requirements. Energy expenditure also may be useful to understand disease states and the metabolic impact of interventions. Several methods for estimating EE are relevant for clinical use, including indirect calorimetry, predictive equations, exhaled carbon dioxide volume, and the Fick method. Indirect calorimetry is the preferred method for evaluating EE and is considered the gold standard for estimating EE in hospitalized patients. However, use of indirect calorimetry is not always practical or possible. Therefore, other methods of estimating EE must be considered. In this review, methods of evaluating EE in critically ill adults are examined and the benefits and limitations of each method are discussed, with practical considerations for use.

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