European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 118, Issue 5, pp 867–874 | Cite as

Foundational insights into the estimation of whole-body metabolic rate

  • Nigel A. S. TaylorEmail author
  • Roy J. Shephard
  • Michael I. Lindinger
Invited Review


Since 2013, this journal has promoted the publication of thematic reviews (Taylor in Eur J Appl Physiol 113:1634, 2013), where leading groups were invited to review the critical literature within each of several sub-topics. The current theme is historically based, and is focussed on estimating the metabolic rate in humans. This review charts the development of our understanding of those methods, from the discovery of oxygen and carbon dioxide, to the introduction of highly sophisticated modern apparatus to examine the composition of expired gas and determine respiratory minute volume. An historical timeline links the six thematic vignettes on this theme. Modern advances have greatly enhanced data collection without significant decrements in measurement accuracy. At the same time, however, conceptual errors, particularly steady-state requirements, are too often ignored. Indeed, it is recognised that we often neglect the past, leading to errors in research design, experimental observations and data interpretation, and this appears to be increasingly prevalent within the open-access literature. Accordingly, the Editorial Board, in recognition of a widening gap between our experimental foundations and contemporary research, embarked on developing a number of thematic review series, of which this series is the first. The intent of each accompanying overview is to introduce and illuminate seminal investigations that led to significant scientific or intellectual breakthroughs, and to thereby whet the appetite of readers to delve more deeply into the historical literature; for it is only when the foundations are understood that we can best understand where we are now, and in which directions we should head.


Calorimetry Metabolic rate Oxygen consumption Respirometry 



No financial support to report.

Author contributions

This series of invited reviews was conceived by NAST and MIL, and then approved by the Editorial Board of this journal. NAST, MIL and RJS developed the series, the topics and invited the lead authors. This manuscript was written, edited and approved for submission by NAST, MIL and RJS.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nigel A. S. Taylor
    • 1
    Email author
  • Roy J. Shephard
    • 2
  • Michael I. Lindinger
    • 3
  1. 1.Centre for Human and Applied Physiology, School of MedicineUniversity of WollongongWollongongAustralia
  2. 2.Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical EducationUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  3. 3.The Nutraceutical AllianceBurlingtonCanada

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