severe acute pancreatitis (sap) causes local and systemic complications leading to high catabolic, hypermetabolic and hyperdynamic stress states with marked morbidity and mortality. in the last decade, nutritional support has become a key element in the treatment of sap. thus, specialized nutrition is indicated from admission, with enteral nutrition being preferred to parenteral nutrition. enteral nutrition should be initiated early using infusion through the jejunum beyond the ligament of treitz to minimize pancreatic stress. there are no specific studies that establish the type of diet to be used but experts recommend the use of polymeric diets. parenteral nutrition, without a specific formula, is indicated in patients with sap who are intolerant to enteral nutrition or when the clinical signs of pancreatitis are exacerbated or aggravated by enteral nutrition. even so, a minimal level of enteral infusion should be maintained to preserve the trophic effect of the intestinal mucosa. in the last few years, several studies of the administration of immunomodulatory diets in patients with sap have been carried out to demonstrate their effects on the course of the disease. however, there are few clear recommendations on the prognostic benefits of pharmaconutrient enriched diets in these patients. there is substantial scientific evidence suggesting that the only clear indication for pharmaconutrition in patients with sap is parenteral glutamine administration, which is recommended by all clinical guidelines with distinct grades of evidence.