What does creatine actually do to your muscles? I hear it justs puts a bunch of water in them to make them look bigger. If that’s true, there is no practical benefit in pitching, correct?

This is from a paper I wrote on the subject for bio class…if you don’t feel like reading it, basically creatine will allow you to train longer and harder before experiencing muscular fatigue…no real side effects and it’s cheap.

Creatine is a protein consisting of the amino acids methionine, glycine and arginine. Though about 95% of creatine is found in skeletal muscle, it is also present in the brain, heart, smooth muscle and testes. The body produces about 2 grams total per day in the kidneys, liver and pancreas. The two basic forms of creatine in the body are free creatine (Cr) and Creatine Phosphate/Phosphocreatine (PCr), which is simply phosphorylated creatine. In general, 60-70% of the creatine is in PCr form and 30-40% is found in muscle cells as Cr.

To understand how creatine is used in the body during muscular contraction, the three main energy systems should be examined. The intensity and length of activity determines which energy system is the primary producer of ATP. For bouts of exercise or activity 3 minutes and longer, ATP is produced via oxidative phosphorylation, which is part of aerobic respiration and involves glycolysis, the Krebs Cycle and the Electron Transport Chain. In an anaerobic environment (lacking oxygen) there are two primary forms of ATP production. For bouts of moderate to intense exercise or muscle activity lasting from about 30 to 180 seconds, the glycolytic energy system is employed. Glycolysis produces a small fraction of the ATP that oxidative phosphorylation does, and results in the formation of lactic acid within the muscle. Creatine comes into play in the third energy system: the ATP-PC system, which is used primarily during bouts of intense exercise lasting less than 30 seconds. PCr stores within the muscle cell quickly replenish ATP following quick bursts of muscle activity by adding a phosphate to ADP. Conversely, if excess ATP is present during a period of inactivity, the reaction runs backwards to produce higher levels of PCr, the usable form of creatine.

Creatine supplementation has been shown to increase levels of Cr and PCr in the muscle by 15-40%, which would support the theory that ATP would be replenished faster during short, high intensity bouts of exercise (Kreider 2003). Therefore, creatine supplementation should hypothetically lead to improved recovery ability during anaerobic activities, leading to intensified training sessions. The authors of the study reasoned this would manifest itself as accelerated physiological adaptations to the heavy resistance-training regimen."