Published online by Cambridge University Press: 09 March 2007
1. The intake and excretion of total nitrogen, fat and the various forms of carbohydrate, and the heats of combustion of the diet, urine and faeces were measured in groups of young men, young women, elderly men and elderly women.
2. Each group was studied while the subjects were eating two diets in turn, which differed in their contents of unavailable carbohydrate; the young women were also studied on a third diet which was rich in unavailable carbohydrate.
3. Increasing the intake of unavailable carbohydrate resulted in a greater faecal loss of energy, and in most instances of nitrogen and fat.
4. There was no significant effect of sex or age on the apparent digestibility of protein, fat or available carbohydrate.
5. The results are used to evaluate the use of calorie conversion factors for calculating the metabolizable energy content of mixed diets.
6. These show that for practical purposes the classical Atwater factors can be used to calculate the metabolizable energy of a diet with reasonable accuracy, provided that when available carbohydrate (as monosaccharides) values are used in the calculation a factor of 3.75 kcal/g (15.7 kJ/g) is used.
7. The studies demonstrate that the accuracy of any method for calculating the metabolizable energy of a diet is largely determined by the accuracy with which the method is capable of predicting the gross energy of the diet.