For decades citrulline malate has been used by the gym crowd to produce massive pumps and epic gains. It’s no wonder that this popular supplement is found in almost every pre-workout on the market today. While getting big and strong is great, we’re endurance athletes and we’re more interested in knowing if citrulline malate can help us run farther, push harder, and give us an extra edge over our competition. In this article we will discuss what citrulline malate is, what benefits it can provide to endurance athletes, proper dosage and timing, and if it is safe.
Citrulline is one of the three amino acids (arginine and ornithine are the other two) that plays a role in the urea cycle. A process that converts ammonia to urea for excretion. Citrulline is found naturally in foods like watermelon, legumes, and nuts. As a supplement, citrulline is commonly combined with malic acid (molecule used in the Krebs cycle) to improve absorption in the body. When citrulline malate is ingested is it converted to arginine, a potent nitric oxide booster. For that reason, citrulline malate has many benefits as it relates to health and endurance performance.
Citrulline malate may have some unique application for general health. For example, citrulline malate may help with erectile disfunction. Citrulline malate increases nitric oxide in the body which in turn leads to the expanding on blood vessels…. or vasodilation. This relaxing and expanding of blood vessels can alleviate ED caused by high blood pressure
1,000mg of citrulline malate should be taken three times a day with meals for a total of 3,000mg daily to enhance circulatory health and help alleviate ED.
Research has demonstrated that citrulline malate can improve both aerobic and anaerobic performance during prolonged endurance exercise. It does this by reducing fatigue, increasing nitric oxide in the body, enhancing blood flow to working muscles, boosting work capacity, and possibly increasing muscle ATP.
6-8 grams of citrulline malate ingested 30-60 minutes prior to endurance exercise.
A 2012 study conducted by Ochiaia et al. discovered that ~6000mg of citrulline taking daily for 7 days was able to improve blood flow that was correlated with increases in arginine. Remember, citrulline is converted to arginine when ingested.
A 2010 study conducted by Perez et al. found that who consumed 8 grams of citrulline malate prior to a weight lifting protocol were able to delay fatigue, perform more reps per set, and reduce muscle soreness.
A 2006 study conducted by Hickner et al. found that subjects who consumed 6 grams of citrulline malate 60 minutes prior to a treadmill test, were able to improve time to exhaustion.
Subjects who consumed 6 grams of citrulline malate for 22 days had an increase in creatine phosphate re-synthesis and reported less fatigue during endurance exercise.
A 2016 study conducted by Takashi et al. discovered subjects who consumed 2.4 grams of citrulline malate daily for 7 days were able to reduce time to completion by 1.5% during a 4km cycling time trial.
In a rodent study, Giannesino et al. discovered that citrulline malate had a performance enhancing effect associated with an improvement in muscular contraction efficiency.
A 2010 study conducted by Sureda et al. found that trained cyclists who consumed 6 grams of citrulline malate prior to a 137km cycling test were better able to utilize amino acids (BCAAs in particular) for energy when blood glucose/glycogen was low.
The majority of research examining the benefits of Citrulline Malate have used a 2:1 ratio. At a 6-gram total dose this would be 4 grams of citrulline and 2 grams of malic acid.
Citrulline appears to be well tolerated by most humans. No research has demonstrated any adverse effects from citrulline malate supplementation.
Based on the available research, citrulline malate appears to be an effective supplement that provides a multitude of health and performance benefits. 6-8 grams of citrulline malate taken 30-60 minutes prior to exercise can improve aerobic and anaerobic performance, increase ATP synthesis, boost nitric oxide levels in the body, and support greater blood flow to working muscles.