1. The relation between dietary carbohydrate:lipid ratio and the fuel mixture oxidized during 24 h was investigated in eleven healthy volunteers (six females, and five males) in a respiration chamber. Values of the fuel mixture oxidized were estimated by continuous indirect calorimetry and urinary nitrogen measurements.
2. The subjects were first given a mixed diet for 7 d and spent the last 24 h of the 7 d period in a respiration chamber for continuous gas-exchange measurement. The fuels oxidized during 2·5 h of moderate exercise were also measured in the respiration chamber. After an interval of 2 weeks from the end of the mixed-diet period, the same subjects were given an isoenergetic high-carbohydrate low-fat diet for 7 d, and the same experimental regimen was repeated.
3. Dietary composition markedly influenced the fuel mixture oxidized during 24 h and this effect was still present 12 h after the last meal in the postabsorptive state. However, the diets had no influence on the substrates oxidized above resting levels during exercise. With both diets, the 24 h energy balance was slightly negative and the energy deficit was covered by lipid oxidation.
4. With the high-carbohydrate low-fat diet, the energy expenditure during sleep was found to be higher than that with the mixed diet.
5. It is concluded that: (a) the composition of the diet did not influence the fuel mixture utilized for moderate exercise, (b) the energy deficit calculated for a 24 h period was compensated by lipid oxidation irrespective of the carbohydrate content of the diet, (c) energy expenditure during sleep was found to be higher with the high-carbohydrate low-fat diet than with the mixed diet.