Respiratory quotient (RQ) or respiratory ratio can be defined as the ratio of the volume of CO2 evolved to the volume of O2 consumed during respiration. The value of respiratory quotient depends on the type of respiratory substrate. Its value is one for carbohydrates. However, it is always less than one for fats as fats consume more oxygen for respiration than carbohydrates.
It can be illustrated through the example of tripalmitin fatty acid, which consumes 145 molecules of O2 for respiration while 102 molecules of CO2 are evolved. The RQ value for tripalmitin is 0.7.