How to Calculate RQ Value

Written by paul nelson
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How to Calculate RQ Value
The respiratory quotient can be measured using breathing apparatus. (Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images)

The respiratory quotient, or RQ, is an arbitrary value which is used in basal metabolic rate calculations measuring the carbon dioxide production. The carbon dioxide production needs to be calculated along with oxygen consumption to attain an RQ value. Both values need to be given in the same units for the ratio to be correct. Carbohydrates, for example, have an RQ value of 1, which means that the RQ ratio is balanced when it is metabolised.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Ensure that the carbon dioxide production and oxygen consumption values are in the same units. If carbon dioxide production is given as centimetres cubed and oxygen consumption is given as meters cubed, then the oxygen consumption value would be multiplied by 1 million to convert it into centimetres cubed.

  2. 2

    Write down the value for carbon dioxide production divided by oxygen consumption. If both values are in meters cubed and are 10 and 5 respectively, then write down 10 / 5.

  3. 3

    Divide the carbon dioxide production by the oxygen consumption to calculate the respiratory quotient value. If the calculation is 10 / 5, then the value of the RQ would be 2.

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