Both L-Citrulline and Citrulline Malate naturally facilitate the release of nitric oxide (NO). Both are also phonetically very similar. But what you don’t know, is which one has better performance benefits, when it comes to your training, building mass and optimizing recovery. You want to have the best possible performance outcome, and it’s hard sometimes to trust the kid behind the counter at GNC. Don’t worry, we’ve going to break it down and cover what the differences really are between L-Citrulline Vs. Citrulline Malate.
What Is Citrulline Malate?
Citrulline Malate is a unique combination of the nonessential amino acid L-Citrulline and malate, which comes from malic acid. L-Citrulline is derived from watermelons while Malate is taken from the Latin word mālum, meaning “apple.” Vegans, go ahead and raise the roof! Citrulline Malate has been used now for over 20 years in Europe as a pharmacological treatment for fatigue, muscle weakness, and dementia. Only recently, has Citrulline Malate been offered for commercial use in sports performance and supplementation.
How Does Citrulline Malate Work?
L-Citrulline is a key component in what’s called the urea cycle. The urea cycle facilitates the detoxification of ammonia into urea, which is the metabolic waste product of protein digestion generated from exercise. When your digestive system metabolizes Citrulline Malate, enzymes in your liver convert it into ornithine and arginine, where it is then converted into Nitric Oxide (NO).Higher ornithine and arginine plasma content improves the ammonia recycling process and nitric oxide metabolism.
Nitric oxide is a vasodilator which allows more blood flow, oxygen, and nutrients to be transported directly into the muscle tissue. Citrulline Malate is the all-star supplement for high-intensity and resistance training. More nitric oxide will facilitate greater advancements in stamina, endurance, strength, and power.
RELATED ARTICLE What Are Nitric Oxide (NO) Boosters?
Several studies have shown the positive effects of citrulline malate on performance outcomes such as strength, recovery, and endurance.
Citrulline Malate Helps Reduce Muscle Fatigue And Optimize Endurance
A study published in the British Journal Of Sports Medicine, found that 6g of Citrulline Malate taken daily, reduced muscle fatigue, by producing a 34% increase in the rate of oxidative ATP production during exercise. The study also found a 20% increase in the rate of phosphocreatine recovery after exercise, indicating a larger contribution of oxidative ATP synthesis to energy production. [R] More ATP translates into better energy utilization and enhanced endurance.
Citrulline Malate Helps Relieve Muscle Soreness And Improves Recovery
A study, published in the Journal Of Strength and Conditioning Research showed a significant increase in number of reps performed between placebo and treatment with Citrulline Malate achieving 52.92% more repetitions. The study also showed a 40% reduction in muscle soreness at 24 hours and 48 hours with a response rate greater than 90% with Citrulline Malate supplementation. [R]
Citrulline Malate Benefits Greater Gains In Muscle Strength
Citrulline Malate facilitates the biological process of protein synthesis, where cells generate new proteins. During this process, amino acids are absorbed into muscle cells, leading to an increase in blood insulin levels to maintain and increase muscle mass and strength.
Citrulline Malate also enhances how your body utilizes amino acids, especially the branched chain amino acids, which are responsible for building and rebuilding lean muscle mass.
RELATED ARTICLE How Citrulline Malate Improves Athletic Performance
What Is L-Citrulline
L-Citrulline is a non-essential amino acid. L-Citrulline is converted into L-arginine and promotes the natural release of nitric oxide. L-Citrulline is a common ingredient found in a majority of pre-workout formulas, due its effect on nitric oxide production.
Citrulline Malate Vs. L-Citrulline
In the past 5 years, there have been several studies that have investigated the effects of l-citrulline on strength and power.
Although research has shown a positive effect on athletic performance with Citrulline Malate, studies have had very mixed and inconclusive results with L-Citrulline supplementation alone. L-Citrulline is the free form version of the amino acid citrulline. Citrulline is converted into arginine and nitric oxide, which provides for more blood and oxygen transport.
Studies indicate that the surmounting difference between L-Citrulline vs Citrulline malate, is that L-citrulline alone does not directly affect aerobic ATP production. Malate which is an intermediate of the tricarboxylic acid cycle (TCA) or urea cycle affects aerobic ATP production through anaplerotic reactions [R].
A systematic review published in Sports Medicine performed a comprehensive analysis of clinical research regarding l-citrulline supplementation and it’s effect on performance outcomes specifically strength and power. The inclusion criteria of the review, included strength and power variables from performance tests involving multiple repetitive muscle actions of large muscle groups, consisting of either resistance training sets or sprints lasting 30 s or less. Tests involving isolated actions of small muscle groups or isolated attempts of single-jump tasks were not included for analysis due to differences in metabolic requirements. Studies were excluded from consideration if they lacked a placebo condition for comparison, were carried out in clinical populations, provided a citrulline dose of less than 3 g, provided the citrulline dose less than 30 min prior to exercise testing, or combined the citrulline ingredient with creatine, caffeine, nitrate, or other ergogenic ingredients.
The review identified 12 studies consisting of 198 participants, which met the inclusion criteria. The results showed that L-Citrulline effects were so small, that they were considered null. However, the results may be beneficial to very high-level elite athletes, in which competitive outcomes are decided my diminutive margins. Further research is needed to determine whether or not supplementation of L-Citrulline alone provides any real performance benefits or outcomes [R].
L-Citrulline Vs Citrulline Malate: Takeaway
In the end, if you’re deciding between L-Citrulline and Citrulline Malate, evidence suggest that Citrulline Malate improves performance measures better than L-Citrulline alone. Studies show that L-citrulline does not directly affect aerobic ATP production. Malate which is an intermediate of the tricarboxylic acid cycle (TCA) or urea cycle affects aerobic ATP production through anaplerotic reactions. ATP is the body’s natural energy source, and without generating ATP, you lose performance benefits such enhancements in endurance, and power output.
Looking To Add Citrulline Malate In Your Supplement Regimen To Crush Your Workout Performance?
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Trexler, E.T., Persky, A.M., Ryan, E.D. et al. Acute Effects of Citrulline Supplementation on High-Intensity Strength and Power Performance: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Sports Med 49, 707–718 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40279-019-01091-z
Gibala MJ, Young ME, Taegtmeyer H. Anaplerosis of the citric acid cycle: role in energy metabolism of heart and skeletal muscle. Acta Physiol Scand. 2000;168(4):657-65.
Bendahan D, Mattei JP, Ghattas B, et alCitrulline/malate promotes aerobic energy production in human exercising muscle British Journal of Sports Medicine 2002;36:282-289.
Pérez-guisado J, Jakeman PM. Citrulline malate enhances athletic anaerobic performance and relieves muscle soreness. J Strength Cond Res. 2010;24(5):1215-22.