Supplemental l-citrulline is intimately related to the production of nitric oxide. More so than L-arginine itself as science has recently discovered.
So, which form of citrulline do you take; straight L-citrulline or L-citrulline malate?
Furthermore, what are the differences between these two types?
Here we’re going to go over everything about L-citrulline and more; including similar nitric oxide products. Use the table of contents below to see what’s coming.
Citrulline Table of Contents
- What is L-Citrulline?
- Why is Citrulline Malate Better?
- How Much Citrulline Malate do you need?
- Pump Competitors for Citrulline Malate
- Other Uses for Citrulline
- Final Conclusion on Citrulline Malate
Citrulline and its role in bodybuilding
Citrulline takes part in two important processes regarding bodybuilding. First, citrulline is active in the production of nitric oxide. Second, Citrulline is important for the removal of ammonia from the blood in the form of urea. At any given time, the net citrulline presence in your body may be participating in either of these processes.
The Citrulline-Arginine Relationship
Interestingly enough, citrulline does not directly become nitric oxide. Instead, it is arginine that is transferred into nitric oxide and citrulline. So, why don’t we just take arginine then? Well, it’s not that simple.
In the blood, NOS (nitric oxide synthase) is prevalent. NOS turns arginine into nitric oxide and citrulline. However in the stomach and intestines another enzyme is present, arginase. And arginases role is to turn arginine into ornithine and urea. Ornithine is not present in the nitric oxide forming reaction. But, both citrulline and arginine are.
So back to the question – why do we take citrulline instead of arginine?
We do this because arginine is readily broken down into ornithine and urea before most of it even reaches the blood. Citrulline on the other hand is not susceptible to arginase in the stomach, and there for makes it into the body where it eventually produces arginine down both pathways: urea and nitric oxide.
Scientists have measured citrulline supplementation to produce in excess of 300% greater nitric oxide production in comparison to an equal dose of arginine based upon this notion.
Citrulline Malate and its Edge
So, citrulline is cool; but what’s the deal with citrulline malate? Is it better than just taking citrulline?
The only difference between citrulline and citrulline malate is that citrulline malate has malic acid in with the citrulline. That’s all.
Some people say that the malic acid helps citrulline to absorb more efficiently into the body; but that’s not the main reason for taking the citrulline malate duo versus citrulline.
The real magic to the mix is that malic acid, which when in the malate form is an important component of the citric acid cycle. The citric acid cycle is one of the ways that your body produces energy. So, when you increase your malate levels while increasing your nitric oxide (ultimately blood flow) via citrulline… Muscular energy production sores.
So, when you take citrulline malate you’re getting both the vasodilation of citrulline with the energy production and endurance of malic acid as malate. It’s undeniably better, as several studies have found. The key difference that athletes notice when they take citrulline malate is that their endurance and pump are increased significantly. This means more effective time in the gym and therefore better gains.
Citrulline Malate is Dose Dependent – You need a real serving
Like any substance, you need enough of it to get an effect. Eating protein isn’t enough, you need to eat a quantifiable amount of protein (ex: 1-2 grams per bodyweight pound) to have a positive effect.
Like this, if you want to increase pump and endurance with citrulline malate – reading ‘has citrulline malate’ on a supplement label isn’t enough. You’ve got to turn that bottle around and make sure you’re seeing at least 6 grams of citrulline malate to get full effect.
Doses of citrulline malate at 4 grams or less may exhibit next to no effect in proper weighted men. Women on the other hand in the sub 100 pounds range may still benefit.
Citrulline Malate Supplementation Takeaway: 6 grams of citrulline malate is the gold standard dose for the average sized man. Legendary pre workouts BULK and Pre-Jym use this amount.
What else gives you a pump besides citrulline?
Citrulline and citrulline malate are not the only pump products on the market. Straight arginine was the first, and the most widely known, but since it doesn’t uptake well we are going to dismiss it. Here are a few of the citrulline alternatives out there. They are good, but they do not come with the malic acid energy that citrulline malate provides.
Agmatine sulfate – Norvaline – Nitrosigine – Glycerol – Beet Root (nitrates)
All of these ingredients support the production of nitric oxide. Agmatine Sulfate promotes an increase in the enzyme nitric oxide synthase, which produces nitric oxide. Norvaline, commonly labeled as l-norvaline prevents the degradation of arginine via arginase, allowing more to go through the nitric oxide pathway.
Nitrosigine is a combination of arginine and silicone. Apparently when combined, there is a greater nitric oxide response in the body than arginine alone. Glycerol is a muscle hydrator, which produces its own pump. Beet root is rich in nitrates, which produce nitric oxide in a different process.
All in all, these ingredients will give you a muscle pump. But, none of them offer the endurance of citrulline malate.
Other Uses for Citrulline Malate
Citrulline malate is most commonly used to improve athletic performance before exercise. But, there are a few other uses. Some people, will take citrulline malate after exercise to help alleviate DOMS. Others will take citrulline malate before bed to increase nitric oxide and therefor growth hormone while sleeping. And going a bit further, some people will take this ingredient for age sensitive circulatory support (the other pump).
Conclusion on Citrulline Malate
Citrulline Malate is the best pump ingredient on the market. There isn’t a single valid competitor when you seek to achieve multiple athletic benefits. If a proper 6 gram dose of citrulline malate wasn’t so expensive, we’re sure that you’d see a lot more products containing it. But until then, expect more of the same old ‘new pump inventions’ with more bark than bite.