Citrulline Malate: Properties and Potential Performance Benefits

Citrulline Malate: Properties and Potential Performance Benefits

If you compare it to other supplements like caffeine, beta alanine, or creatine, Citrulline Malate is probably less popular. Does that detract from its merits? Not at all, and you have the proof in the large number of followers who use every day – it’s great for improving sports performance in any of its disciplines.

In order to give you all the details you need to know about citrulline malate, we’ve compiled a comprehensive guide to the supplement that’s a combination of citrulline and malic acid, the form of citrulline commonly found in food supplements. 3,2,1… Let’s begin!

What is Citrulline Malate?

What is Citrulline Malate?

As we’ve just mentioned, the substance in question, which is right on trend at the moment thanks to the many properties attributed to it in terms of improving sports performance, is a combination of the essential amino acid citrulline and an acid salt, malate.

Certain foods, such as watermelon, provide it naturally and, once ingested, it acts as a precursor of nitric oxide.

Along with arginine and ornithine, citrulline is one of the three amino acids involved in the urea cycle.

After ingestion, citrulline is transformed into arginine. There begins its process of transport to the kidneys. Looking to experience the effects of arginine? Then our suggestion is that you supplement with citrulline, given its greater bioavailability.

Citrulline Malate Graphic

What is the difference between L. Citrulline and Citrulline Malate?

Although you may think it’s the same substance, it’s not. Check it out with this simple formula: 

Citrulline Malate: L-Citrulline + Malic Acid

L-Citrulline is the natural form of the amino acid. It is based on the fact that, although your body is able to synthesise it, adding extra may translate into greater benefits in general terms.

It also affects heart health and circulation, helping to neutralise the harmful action of free radicals.

Malic acid, on the other hand, contributes to its ability to improve ATP resynthesis more effectively, or in other words, the energy you use in high intensity and maximum power efforts.

Learn more in this link about What Malic Acid Is and What Its Properties Are.

Citrulline in explosive sports

What’s it for?

In the gym environment, you’ll have heard that citrulline malate is used to combat fatigue and muscle weakness. What you may not know is that, on a therapeutic level, it has a use for the treatment of dementia or mental disorders that hinders thinking, speech and even movement.

In such cases, its use has reported formidable results.

In view of its potential, and for some time, citrulline malate has been incorporated into pre and intra-training products and supplements for the improvement of the athlete’s physical ability and sports performance.

In the health setting, research is currently focused on using it as treatment for heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, mood improvement, and Alzheimer’s disease.

Properties that impact on sport (for the good)

An in-depth understanding of the properties of citrulline malate will give you an idea of why it is a worthwhile supplement. Mainly, we’re going to focus on two properties.

Increased production of nitric oxide (NO)

If you’re an athlete, this first aspect will be of particular interest to you because of the importance of a role that isn’t just attributed to L-arginine and other forms of the amino acid. As is well known, nitric oxide (NO) is a physiological process signalling molecule that triggers several reactions. Among them, the following stand out:

  • The regulation of blood flow
  • The supply of oxygen
  • Glucose uptake
  • Muscle recovery and regeneration

Interested in finding out more information related to Nitric Oxide and its Properties? Click on the link.

The new pre-workout products that L-arginine incorporates are already adding citrulline malate as it raises the levels of arginine in the blood plasma endogenously, to the point of placing them higher than what arginine itself does.

It is these effects that draw the attention of athletes to nitric oxide.

Elimination of Ammonia

Citrulline is involved in the process of excretion of metabolic waste substances, including ammonia. In sports, the accumulation of this substance, driven by continuous physical effort, can increase fatigue.

Citrulline Malate as a Pre-workout

What role does it play in high-intensity exercise?

It is involved in the urea cycle, a process that takes place in the liver and that the body carries out with the aim of excreting waste products. This way, the excess nitrogen is converted into urea, to be eliminated. Through the aforementioned excretion, the body manages to eliminate ammonia and toxic nitrogen metabolites.

Part of the basis is that ammonia is an extremely toxic substance to cells, and high levels can be critical. Don’t trust it, because even if you are a trained and healthy athlete, too high a level can lead to extreme fatigue.

All this is produced or maximised due to high intensity physical exercise. In such a scenario, the appearance of another substance equally involved in performance, lactic acid or lactate, takes centre stage.

The glycolytic use of the most explosive fibres (IIB) promotes their release. As the duration of the high intensity effort advances, the accumulation of this substance takes place, which can cause the cessation of activity.

The best trained athletes can use the lactate by recycling it, even using it as an energy substrate.

The ability to increase the limit or time under this high intensity can be trained. This way, you’ll be able to improve your condition as an athlete. One of the parameters to measure such quality is the VO2MAX.

To find out more about Lactate and Its Effects, click on this link.

What about sports nutrition?

In the case you’re a performance athlete, citrulline malate is one of the most interesting aids you can access, especially if strength sports are your thing.

Which disciplines can most benefit most from this supplement? Primarily, Weight-lifting and CrossFit, as a result of them tending to use a lot of basic and explosive movements.

And what about high-intensity sports like athletics? Well, it’s good for them too.

Think about the fact that training for these sports requires a lot of energy in a very short period of time. So in this first or second series, you’ll hardly find a difference between a low or high carbohydrate diet, as the energy use at that time begins with phosphocreatine and stored glycogen. However, after a few minutes, the difference widens.

High Intensity Energetic Substrate

As you can see, the first energy you use is phosphocreatine, so most athletes benefit from supplementation with this substance. From there, the metabolic pathway your body uses will depend on the intensity of the physical exercise you do.

At a low to moderate intensity, the fatty acids in your diet and body reserves can supply the low glycogen stores. However, when the intensity rises, fatty acids are unable to suffer the lack of carbohydrates, because your body “cuts”, not being able to produce enough energy from lactate.

Energy from the phosphagen system

Get more relative information on Energy Systems and their Functions by clicking on this link.

Find out what the studies are saying

In this context, the search for supplements or protocols aimed at maintaining high intensity training in a low-calorie diet (low in carbohydrates) becomes a priority. For this reason, introducing certain supplements in the peri-training (period that encompasses the pre- and post-training) can be of great help in your goal to improving performance.

We analysed a study that demonstrates its efficiency

Although the theory is attractive, we won’t deny it, we need data to support it. On a practical level, a group of athletes was selected to be the subject of a double-blind experiment. Half of them received placebo, while the other half received Bg of citrulline, to undergo a posteriori weight training, basing their training on 80% of their 1RM. The training was carried out from Monday to Friday.

What were the results?

The athletes who were given citrulline responded well, although 15% of them had gastrointestinal problems. Regarding bench pressing performance, the result obtained was:

Study with Citrulline

As you can see, in the first set, there was hardly any difference, something that confirmed our theory that at first, the energy input wasn’t going to change, regardless of the reserves or pre-workout level.

However, it’s easy to see that the advancement of the set causes a more noticeable difference. This explains why, unlike what happens with other supplements such as beta-alanine, citrulline can be of great interest for those who aim for a high training volume in a short period of time.

Study Results with Citrulline Malate

In short, citrulline is one of the few supplements capable of improving the environment in which the muscle cell is during an intense workout.

Is it effective for improving your levels?

The ability of this substance to act on the urea cycle, facilitating greater use of glucose by the cell, helps the athlete to improve their levels in basic exercises, such as bench press or squat.

Following the results of the study, participants who ingested pre-workout citrulline supplements had a lower feeling of fatigue 24 hours later. What does this mean? Because the consumption of citrulline not only has a positive effect during training, but also in terms of recovery.

Whenever you avoid high lactate levels, you improve pyruvate recycling, favouring glucose resynthesis and, therefore, avoiding muscle fatigue, which is the goal. This could justify that the feeling of fatigue after training is less in the 24-48 hours post-workout in the participants who consumed this supplement.

Pyruvate cycle

As such, if you’re looking to increase the volume of training in a low-carb diet, you’ll see how your anaerobic training is not compromised with the intake of the combination of creatine + citrulline malate.

If I eat watermelon or an apple, is that not enough?

No, it’s not enough. Why? The amount of this substance contained in watermelons and apples  is too low for you to record sports improvements. Because of this, we recommend you combine your intake with that of citrulline malate supplements.

How do you take Citrulline Malate?

With reference to how to take citrulline malate to obtain all its benefits at the sports level, you need to consider two issues:

Effective dose

When it comes to taking citrulline malate as an ergogenic aid, or in other words, for the improvement of sports performance, the recommended daily dose would be between 5-10g per day.

But be careful! The dose varies depending on the individual. Each person assimilates nutritional supplements in a different way and each has to evaluate which dose is the most effective for the achievement of their objectives, based on their experience.

What time of day is better?

The supplement we have in our hands is used to improve sports performance, so the ideal time for taking it is between 30-45 minutes before training, especially on an empty stomach.

You also have the option to split the shot in two: one when you’re first up and one before training.

Citrulline Malate and High Intensity Exercise

Combining it with other supplements enhances its effects

Combining this supplement with others such as beta-alanine and creatine is a great option for improving your sports performance. As you can imagine, these are supplements that act in synergy, enhancing their favourable effects and without causing absorption problems.

The combination of these substances is fabulous, especially if you use it in pre-workout supplements.

Take note of the most synergistic combinations!

  • With Creatine. This helps to improve performance, for the simple reason that it increases the reserves of creatine phosphate in the skeletal muscle and stimulates the production of ATP.
  • With L-Carnitine. This uses fats as a fuel source, providing more energy to the body while promoting the fat burning process.
  • With Arginine. This Neutralises ammonium, forming part of the production of nitric oxide and the stimulation of growth hormone.
  • With B complex vitmains. This participates in the processes of energy production.
  • With Zinc. This increases the production of testosterone and strengthens the immune system.
  • With Coenzyme Q10. This plays a decisive role in the energy production of the mitochondria, avoiding attacks of free radicals of DNA.

Does it have any side effects?

Fortunately, citrulline malate is well tolerated and non-toxic. This is applicable even in prolonged treatments, although our recommendation is that you don’t exceed the recommended effective dose, as with any other supplement.

It’s very safe for consumption, the only side effect some users allude to is certain stomach pains.

Citrulline Malate and Cycling

Is Citrulline Malate recommended?

The use of substances (and of course by substances we mean legal ones) that lead to an increase in performance can be fantastically effect, provided it starts from a firm and experienced base.

Remember that the recovery phase is essential to assimilate the training, as well as for the process of adaptation and consequent improvement to take place. Adding this substance is one of the best ways for you to see your physical recovery mechanisms speed up.

Citrulline malate has given ample evidence of its ability to influence these aspects, increasing the physical condition of trained persons, while reducing recovery time by intervening in related physiological processes.

Where can I buy it?

You can buy Citrulline Malate at HSN at the best price. Buy it isolate form (a product that only contains citrulline) or in combination with other substances. You also have the option to choose between formats, powder or tablets:

RawSeries Citrulline Malate Powder

RawSeries Citrulline Malate Powder.

EssentialSeries Citrulline Malate 2:1 1000mg

Citrulline Malate 2:1 1000mg from EssentialSeries.

In short…

  • Increases performance in both endurance and high-intensity exercises
  • Improves recovery
  • Improves cardiovascular health
  • There are no side effects in the majority of the population
Have enough information in your hands to assess the appropriateness of taking citrulline malate? If you still have any questions, ask us!

Bibliographic Sources:

Review of Citrulline Malate

Improves Sporting Performance - 100%

Improves Recovery - 100%

Ideal for High Intensity Activities - 100%

Improves Cardiovascular Health - 100%


HSN Evaluation: 5 /5
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About Javier Colomer
Javier Colomer
"Knowledge Makes Stronger", Javier Colomer's motto, sets out his clearest statement of intentions expressing his knowledge and fitness experience.
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