Ever wonder why watermelon is the go-to snack after a race?
Other than being absolutely refreshing, it also happens to be a great natural source of Citrulline Malate.
Whether you’ve heard of this amino acid or not, you’ve probably reaped the benefits of Citrulline Malate before, even if unknowingly. You see, Citrulline Malate is a common ingredient in many pre-workout drinks and other related supplements - like our very own Frog Fuel Ultra. This is because of its potential ability to reduce fatigue, decrease post-workout soreness and even help speed up your recovery.
It’s also known as L-Citrulline, which is commonly found on the shelf of supplement stores.
But what is Citrulline Malate really? And with so many pre-workouts, protein powders, and supplements on the market today, is this one that needs to be a part of your daily nutrition?
It can be hard to know what it is you should and shouldn’t be taking to boost athletic performance - not to mention time-consuming and costly.
But we’ve put a powerful mix of hydrolyzed collagen protein, Beta-Alanine, Citrulline Malate, and optional caffeine in our Frog Fuel Ultra line-up, so you can benefit from all of them in one fell swoop. Or rather, slurp.
When it came to deciding whether the Citrulline Malate benefits were compelling enough to include with our liquid collagen protein, we let the research lead us. We dug into scientific studies, race results, dosage amounts and more. Here’s what we found.
What is Citrulline Malate?
First off, let’s tackle what defines Citrulline Malate in the first place.
All non-essential amino acids can be produced naturally in the body and are essential for our overall health and growth. Since our body produces them, they don’t have to be in our diet, however, we can support the health of our bodies by supplementing with non-essential amino acids.
L-Citrulline is a non-essential amino acid that can be found in foods like watermelon, squash, cucumber, and pumpkin. It is also synthesized in the human intestine and liver.
When it is taken in supplemental form, the amino acid L-Citrulline is usually bonded with a salt compound. In the case of Citrulline Malate, the malate is the organic salt. When combined, Citrulline Malate begins to engage in biochemical reactions within our bodies easier than when the two are introduced independently.
You may see some supplements that are only labeled as L-Citrulline. This means that it is not combined with an organic salt. Citrulline Malate is a more effective athletic supplement because of the organic salt bonded to the amino acid. Malate is important for energy production (i.e. ATP) within the body, particularly the muscles, making it more applicable to exercise.
In the human body, L-Citrulline is an intermediate in the urea cycle. This means that it is one of three dietary amino acids present in the urea cycle as the body works to remove toxic ammonia from the body. For biological reference, the final stage in the urea cycle is urine.
One major draw to Citrulline Malate as a dietary supplement is that it may help improve blood flow by opening blood vessels. It can do this by interacting with and converting to arginine and nitric oxide.
We will dig deeper into this process in the next section.
How Citrulline Malate Impacts Athletic Performance and Recovery
When you’re working towards your fitness goals, it can be tempting to jump at the chance to try any supplement or protein that claims to show results fast. However, not all supplement companies base their products off of scientific research.
Fortunately, there has been successful research regarding the impacts Citrulline Malate has on the human body when used for exercise and recovery. That’s why we include Citrulline Malate in our endurance products. It is scientifically proven to enhance performance!
The primary reason that Citrulline Malate has become a popular pre-workout supplement is its ability to open blood vessels and increase oxygen content in muscles.
The upside? Faster race times and less fatigue while pushing through that last mile. The downside? You do need to take the supplement a few times to build up enough reserves in your body to see effects.
Fortunately, Frog Fuel Ultra is a medical-grade supplement that's safe to take every day - or multiple times in a day if you really need to crush that workout or push through the last miles of your Ironman!
L-Citrulline is the amino acid precursor to L-arginine, and L-arginine is a substrate for nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is potentially modular for blood flow, mitochondrial respiration, and muscle energy metabolism when your body is engaged in exercise.
A 2016 study concluded that oral supplementation of Citrulline Malate effectively increased the plasma L-arginine present in the athlete’s blood and helped their muscles feel less fatigued both during and after a cycling exercise. Compared to placebo trials, the men that supplemented with Citrulline Malate were able to complete the exercise faster as well.
All of that being said, taking a Citrulline Malate supplement for at least a week does have the potential to boost oxygen usage within your muscles and improve your overall endurance.
The cycling study mentioned above also suggests that Citrulline Malate may improve power output and force, as well as explosive bursts of energy as muscles feel less fatigued. All the things you want and need from your pre-workout supplement.
Pumping iron as a part of your strength training routine?
Those same Citrulline Malate benefits that aid endurance can help here, too.
It can decrease overall muscle fatigue when weight training. This is due to the supplement’s ability to increase the oxygen content within your muscles and to rid your body of toxins such as lactic acid and ammonia. Both are commonly produced during exercise.
Since Citrulline Malate opens blood vessels and allows your blood to flow through your body faster, your body can transport oxygen and remove toxins at a faster rate.
Citrulline Malate also increases your body’s natural production of ATP (adenosine triphosphate) within your muscles. ATP is a significant energy source for your muscles, and having more of it will reduce fatigue, allowing you to work harder for longer.
ATP is essential to exercise because it is essentially our body's fuel. Food molecules are broken down into ATP, an energy-carrying molecule, that captures energy for us to use. As our body becomes more capable of storing energy from carbohydrates, our muscles are able to activate ATP during energy-consuming activities like exercise.
Citrulline Malate is most commonly used as a pre-workout supplement.
Still, there have been studies that support the idea that it can help with muscle recovery and relieve soreness after exercise. One study showed a significant decrease in muscle soreness (40%) in athletes that had consumed Citrulline Malate as a pre-workout supplement. These statistics accounted for the one to two days following their workout.
All of this is to say that Citrulline Malate’s benefits don’t end once you leave the gym.
Your muscles are still hard at work. The oxygen flow and toxin removal process aren’t over yet. But it doesn’t have to wait until your workout is over. Citrulline Malate allows your body's natural process of removing toxins to be accelerated by improving the oxygen flow in your blood. This little boost is what gives your body the chance to start recovering during your workout instead of only once you’re finished. Having the right fuel for your body makes a big difference in your recovery time.
How Much Citrulline Malate Should You Take?
Like many parts of your workout routine and diet that you’ve spent finessing, the answer is: it depends.
How much Citrulline Malate you take will vary according to your workout plans and fitness goals. As always, before introducing a new supplement to your diet, it is advised to consult a trusted medical professional to ensure there will be no adverse side effects. This is especially true if you have a preexisting condition or if you’re currently prescribed medications.
The right amount for you will also vary according to your overall size, body composition and bioavailability of the supplement.
Finally, just like protein, vitamins or any other supplement you take, absorption plays a role. You want to make sure your body is actually able to use the stuff you’re eating or drinking! When Citrulline is consumed in the natural form, like in watermelon or cucumber, our bodies can make quick work of absorbing the amino acid and you’ll see the benefits a little quicker.
But you can increase the absorption of Citrulline as a supplement by making sure it's combined with an organic salt. That’s the Malate we mentioned above. Remember, you’ll want to make sure you opt for a supplement that lists the full name “Citrulline Malate” as an ingredient.
An average range that has emerged from various studies suggests anywhere from 2.4 - 15g is safe to consume.
If you are gauging your dose according to your body weight, you can calculate your ideal Citrulline Malate supplementation the same way you decide on protein consumption. You’d have an equation that reflects grams per kilogram of your body weight.
Here’s our cheat sheet of amounts based on where you want to see Citrulline Malate benefits the most:
- Endurance Exercise: To ensure optimal results from oxygen supply to the muscles, taking 6g daily for 7 days has shown to be effective.
- Weight Training: 4.5 - 8g taken 60 minutes before your workout is an effective dose for weight training exercises.
- Muscle Recovery: 3 - 9g of Citrulline Malate before exercise has been shown to lessen muscle soreness and improve recovery time.
Another consideration when looking at proper dosage amounts is whether you are taking Citrulline Malate or L-Citrulline. According to research, the average male body is unable to use over 10g of L-Citrulline at one time. So, while it’s safe to take more, it may not be necessarily helpful.
Additionally, you may notice that taking the combination of citrulline and malate will give you a lower dose of citrulline. However, it will be easier for your body to use more of what you are consuming. Again, as with protein, a larger serving size does not equal more gains and/or more nutrients.
Is Citrulline Malate a Safe Supplement?
Unlike many other amino acid-based supplements, Citrulline Malate has shown minimal signs of adverse side effects, even at high doses.
However, as we mentioned in the last section, it is unnecessary to take over 10g at a time. Your body simply cannot convert or use that much in a single serving, and any excess will go to waste.
In rare cases, there have been reports of individuals experiencing stomach aches, heartburn, cough, changes in urine, and swelling after taking L-Citrulline orally. These are often isolated incidents but worth noting as all of us react differently to new supplements.
The use of Citrulline Malate, especially as a pre-workout supplement, may boost your athletic performance. As a non-essential amino acid, our bodies produce it naturally, and because of that, there are limited known side effects.
From endurance athletes to weight lifters, Citrulline Malate has the ability to encourage blood flow, rid toxins, and increase oxygen in muscles making for less fatigue and fewer post-workout aches and pains.
It could be just what your workout was missing.
Check out Frog Fuel Ultra to get the most out of your workout or to push you through your next endurance event. One pouch of our frog fuel pre-workout contains 1500mg of Citrulline Malate.