Electrolytes are nutrients that affect the fluid balance in our bodies and are required for the nerves and muscles in our body to function. When electrolytes dissolve, they produce ions that carry electrons from one electrode to another. The more soluble a substances is, the stronger the electrolyte is. The main electrolytes needed by the body are sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, chloride, bicarbonate, phosphate and sulphate.
As an athlete exercises their body sweats to maintain its core temperature of 37 degrees centigrade. Thus as the body is loosing water through sweating, the athlete is essentially loosing electrolytes as these are contained in the water.
If the athlete loses 2% of his body weight as sweat then they will suffer from impaired performance. A 10% loss results in circulatory collapse and heat stroke. So it is important that the athlete drinks something that will hydrate them and will replace lost electrolytes.
Sodium and potassium are the most common electrolytes added to the ever-increasing variety of sports drinks. While electrolyte replacement may be beneficial during rigorous activity lasting longer than two hours, electrolyte infusion is generally not needed during short bursts of exercise.
Since sweat is composed of 99% water and less than 1% electrolytes, water is more than enough to restore the body’s normal balance of fluid and electrolyte levels during a short period of exercise. But during long periods of exercise other sources must be used to replenish the electrolytes. Since sodium and potassium are put in most energy drinks as the electrolytes, we chose to use readily available energy drinks in super markets that maybe used as sport drinks by athletes we chose the following;- Red Bull, Lucozade, Fruit juice, and Coca Cola
Sport drinks with electrolytes also tend to increase the alertness of the user. This is because the electrolytes are used in the synapses between neurons in the Central nervous system (Spine, Sensory neurons, Connector neurons and Multipolar neurons). The impulses cannot pass across a gap and thus the electrolytes help the impulses pass over.
We thus decide to carry out an Electrolysis of the isotonic drink to measure the current that the electrolyte could conduct. But as the isotonic drink had only positive ions present in high concentrations and very few negative ions we decided to add a fixed amount of one molar Sodium Chloride (NaCl) solution to the isotonic drink so that a visible current change could be observed. After the first experiment we carried out another experiment with no NaCl so as to show that in a chemical electrolysis both ions are needed but in our bodies this is not the case. In essence to see if there is a real difference we also tested distilled water i.e the control in the experiment
Our experiment thus investigates the ions in the isotonic drink and as sodium is present in almost all our drinks we hypothesized that:
The More the electrolyte the isotonic drink contains the higher the initial current observed”
We predict that Red Bull has the highest electrolyte concentration followed by Coca Cola, lucozade and finally fruit Juice
With this s our prediction, we moved on to do the experiment
* Electrical wires with crocodile clips
* Graphite electrodes (20)
* Round bottomed flask (25ml)
* Measuring Cylinder (25 cm3 and 10cm3)
* Power pack (AC-DC converter)
* Coca cola
* Fruit juice
* Red Bull
* Distilled water
* 1 molar Sodium
* Step 1
We first measured out 25 cm3 of the isotonic drink and put it into a beaker
* Step 2
Next we measured out 5 cm3 of 1 molar NaCl into the beaker
* Step 3
We fixed new graphite rods into the circuit and when the power pack was on, placed the Electrode into the electrolyte and observed the initial current in the ammeter or Milli-ammeter
* Step 4
Once the reading was noted down a new beaker was taken and the electrodes were replaced with new ones and the electrolysis of the same electrolyte repeated so that accuracy is increased
* Step 5
Another electrolyte was then measured out, the NaCl added in and electrolysis carried out
* Step 6
Once all the electrolyses experiments were carried out for all the isotonic drinks, we repeated the electrolysis of the electrolytes without adding NaCl and recorded the results
It was found that Distilled water contained the highest concentration of electrolytes. Then red bull followed by, lucozade, then Fruit juice and lastly, coca cola
Distilled water gave the highest reading because it had no impurities and was saturated with electrolytes hence the high initial current. It was also considered as a control and thus the difference in the first and second experiments
Hence technically red bull was the best electrolyte from the drinks examined. We concluded this because it had the highest reading in both the experiments
Our experiment was a success and the results were satisfactory as we could not get literature values to check our results. If we had these values and hey were almost the same as ours then we would classify our results as excellent
Conclusion and Recommendation
We thus proved our prediction and our hypothesis in that RedBull had the highest concentration of electrolytes. However we were proved wrong about the Coca Cola as lucozade had the second highest concentration.
These were the best two best drinks. However we recommend lucozade as Red Bull has explosive amounts of caffeine and long term use can be harmful to the body
The next best isotonic drinks were; fruit juice and coca cola. Both had the same number of electrolytes and thus we recommend fruit juice over Coca Cola. This is because fruit juice is more nutritious and helpful to the body.