The presence of malnutrition is increasingly becoming a postdischarge problem in surgical patients. We aimed to investigate whether oral nutritional supplements combined with resistance training could minimize skeletal muscle atrophy in surgical patients after discharge. This randomized controlled study was conducted at the Department of Surgery, National Hospital of Faroe Islands from 2018 to 2020. A total of 45 patients aged 37–74 years participated and were allocated to one of three groups: diet (DI; n = 13), exercise and diet (EX + DI; n = 16), or control (CON; n = 16). The intervention period lasted 8 weeks. The intervention groups received individual dietary counselling and a protein-rich oral nutritional supplement twice a day containing 22 g of protein/day. Patients in the EX + DI group were assigned to resistance training sessions. Patients in the CON group received standard care. The primary outcome was change in lean body mass (LBM). Secondary outcomes were change in body weight, handgrip strength, quality of life, surgery-related side effects, energy and protein intake, length of stay and one-year mortality. To estimate within-group changes, linear mixed models including group–time interactions as fixed effects and patients as random effects were fitted. Within-group change in LBM was 233, 813 and 78 g in the DI, EX + DI and CON groups, respectively, with no significant between-group difference (p > 0.05). Pain score declined more (p = 0.04) in the EX + DI group compared with the CON group. Body weight, handgrip strength, quality of life and surgery-related side effects did not differ between groups. At the end of study, mean cumulative weight change in the DI and EX + DI groups was 0.4% and 1.6%, respectively, whereas the CON group experienced a weight loss of −0.6%. No significant difference in primary outcome between groups was noted. However, our results indicate some benefits from exercise and nutrition for malnourished surgical patients.
- resistance training
- oral nutritional supplements