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L-Citrulline Pre-Workout: 3 Exercise Benefits

Reviewed by: Jacek Szymanowski (Certified Nutritionist, S&C specialist, M.Sc.Eng. Biotechnology)

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Citrulline is a popular amino acid. While citrulline is naturally produced in the body and found in foods, sometimes a supplement may help you get additional benefits. Since it has several health and performance benefits, several people seek an L-citrulline pre-workout.

In this article, we’ll explore what does L-citrulline do in a pre-workout. In addition, we’ll review the difference between L-citrulline and citrulline malate, how and when to take L-citrulline in pre-workout, and what supplements we recommend.

An L-citrulline pre-workout is a great way to help improve performance. Since it helps increase nitric oxide, it widens the blood vessels, allowing more oxygen and nutrients to reach muscles. As a result, it can improve performance and muscle recovery.

L-Citrulline Pre-Workout

What L-Citrulline Pre-Workout Benefits Can We Expect?

One of the biggest benefits of L-citrulline is its effect on blood flow. When you consume L-citrulline, it’s converted into another amino acid called arginine, which helps in the formation of nitric oxide. 

Nitric oxide makes the blood vessels widen (vasodilation). As a result, you may obtain several health benefits, such as reduced blood pressure. But what health benefits may you get when adding L-citrulline before a workout?

✅ Improved Endurance

Since L-citrulline helps blood vessels to widen, it means that more oxygen may be able to reach the muscles to be used during a workout. Consequently, it can improve performance. 

In a 2014 study, cyclists who consumed L-citrulline managed to last 12% longer before getting tired compared to the placebo group. In another study, cyclists supplementing for 7 days improved power output.

✅ Improved Weight Training

According to research, L-citrulline can help improve weight training performance. In a study, men supplementing with L-citrulline increased their repetitions by 53%. In addition, they also decrease muscle soreness by 40%. In addition, it seems that the benefits may be greater for trained individuals than for beginners.

✅ Energy Production

Finally, evidence suggests that citrulline malate may help improve energy production aerobically. In a study, people supplementing with citrulline malate increased 34% the production of ATP (the energy molecule in the body).

Nutrition L-Citrulline Powder

Which Is Better for Pre-workout: Citrulline or Citrulline Malate?

There is a difference between L-citrulline and citrulline malate. L-citrulline is the pure form of citrulline, while citrulline combines citrulline with malic acid. But, while they can both increase nitric oxide production, which one is better as a pre-workout?

What makes citrulline malate stand out is the addition of malic acid. It seems that malic acid may help regulate energy, reduce fatigue, and improve heart function.

However, choosing one may not be that easy.

L-citrulline has a lot of evidence backing up its claims promoting exercise performance. However, so does citrulline malate. While citrulline malate may be a better option to help improve performance, if your pre-workout contains L-citrulline, it’s still a good option.

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How and When to Take Citrulline for Best Results?

Since L-citrulline helps improve blood flow, it’s best to take 30 to 90 minutes before a workout (the recommended time to take a pre-workout). However, the best results are seen through consistency.

If you are not working out or have digestive issues when taking the supplement, you can break it down into smaller doses (if you are taking only L-citrulline). If you are taking it along with other ingredients (like in a pre-workout), avoid taking it at night, especially if it has caffeine, since it can disrupt sleep.

Is Taking L-Citrulline Safe?

L-citrulline is a safe supplement, even at higher doses (15 grams). While L-citrulline is well-tolerated among most people, others may get digestive issues, such as upset stomach or heartburn.

The Supplements We Recommend

If you want a pre-workout with L-citrulline, we’ve got you covered! Here are the two options we recommend.

Transparent Labs Pure L-Citrulline

Transparent Labs Pure L-Citrulline
  • Form: Powder
  • Servings: 120
  • Suitable for Vegans: Yes
  • Servings per Container (3g): 80
  • Package Information: 240g
  • Price per Serving: ~$0.23
  • Company Founded: 2012
  • Recommended by Athletes: Hafthor BjornssonPaul SklarSean Harris

If you don’t know how you are going to react while taking L-citrulline, the best thing you can do is to take the pure form. This way, if you get side effects, they are attributed to L-citrulline (instead of figuring out which of the pre-workout ingredients is causing them).

The best pure L-citrulline supplement is offered by Transparent Labs. It doesn’t have any artificial sweeteners, coloring, or preservatives. In addition, it doesn’t have gluten, and it uses non-GMO ingredients.

The formula has an “Informed Choice” certification, and each serving (one scoop) offers 2,000 mg of L-citrulline. However, keep in mind that for some people, 2,000 mg may not be enough. In this case, it may be better to take 3 to 4 spoons to stay closer to the recommended dosage of 6,000 to 8,000 mg.

BETTER FOR ENDURANCE

Pump Surge – Stim-Free Pre-Workout

Pump Surge
  • Item Form: Powder
  • Special Ingredients: L-Citrulline, Betaine Anhydrous
  • Caffeine: 0mg
  • Serving Size: 12.5g
  • Servings per Container: 20
  • Price Per Serving: ~$1.75
  • Company Founded: 2006
  • Recommended by Athletes: Morgan MacMike OliverBhuwan Chauhan

For those who don’t want to take L-citrulline alone and prefer to take it in a pre-workout, Pump Surge has the best pre-workout with L-citrulline. Besides L-citrulline (8,000 mg), the formula also contains betaine anhydrous (2,500 mg), glycerol powder (2,000 mg), L-tyrosine (1,000 mg), astragin (50 mg), and huperzine A (125 mcg).

Since the formula doesn’t contain any stimulants, you can easily take it at night without worrying that it will affect your sleeping patterns. Still, the formula can help improve performance and focus and help you get the best results at the gym.

FAQ

Is L-Citrulline Good in Pre-workout?

Yes, L-citrulline may help improve blood flow, allowing more oxygen and nutrients to reach the muscles. As a result, it can help improve performance, speed muscle recovery, and enhance muscle strength.

How Much L-Citrulline Is Good for a Pre-workout?

The recommended dosage for improving performance is 6,000 to 8,000 mg before a workout. However, some people may respond to a higher dose, such as 10,000 mg. But make sure to speak with a professional before doing so. 

What Are the Side Effects of L-Citrulline?

Some people may get an upset stomach and heartburn when taking L-citrulline. If this is the case, you can break it down into smaller doses.

Conclusion

L-citrulline is a common pre-workout ingredient that can help improve blood flow and promote exercise performance. The recommended dosage per serving is 6,000 to 8,000 mg, so make sure your pre-workout covers this recommended intake.

If you are looking for a pure L-citrulline supplement, Transparent Labs offers a clean solution to add to your supplement routine. But, if you are looking for a complete pre-workout supplement (stim-free), Pump Surge Pre-Workout is the best option.

Do you take L-citrulline alone or in a pre-workout? Let us know in the comments.

Also read:

References

  1. Bailey, Stephen J., et al. “L-Citrulline Supplementation Improves O2 Uptake Kinetics and High-Intensity Exercise Performance in Humans.” Journal of Applied Physiology, vol. 119, no. 4, 15 Aug. 2015, pp. 385–395, https://doi.org/10.1152/japplphysiol.00192.2014.
  2. Bendahan, D. “Citrulline/Malate Promotes Aerobic Energy Production in Human Exercising Muscle.” British Journal of Sports Medicine, vol. 36, no. 4, 1 Aug. 2002, pp. 282–289, https://doi.org/10.1136/bjsm.36.4.282. Accessed 25 Aug. 2019.
  3. Orozco-Gutiérrez, Juan José, et al. “Effect of L-Arginine or L-Citrulline Oral Supplementation on Blood Pressure and Right Ventricular Function in Heart Failure Patients with Preserved Ejection Fraction.” Cardiology Journal, vol. 17, no. 6, 2010, pp. 612–618, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21154265/.
  4. Pérez-Guisado, Joaquín, and Philip M Jakeman. “Citrulline Malate Enhances Athletic Anaerobic Performance and Relieves Muscle Soreness.” Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, vol. 24, no. 5, 2010, pp. 1215–22, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20386132, https://doi.org/10.1519/JSC.0b013e3181cb28e0.
  5. Quillon, Alfred, et al. “Endothelium Microenvironment Sensing Leading to Nitric Oxide Mediated Vasodilation: A Review of Nervous and Biomechanical Signals.” Nitric Oxide, vol. 45, Feb. 2015, pp. 20–26, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.niox.2015.01.006.
  6. Suzuki, Takashi, et al. “Oral L-Citrulline Supplementation Enhances Cycling Time Trial Performance in Healthy Trained Men: Double-Blind Randomized Placebo-Controlled 2-Way Crossover Study.” Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, vol. 13, no. 1, 19 Feb. 2016, https://doi.org/10.1186/s12970-016-0117-z.

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By trusting the recommendations of our certified experts in coaching, nutrition, dietology, and sports training programming, as well as scientific consultants, and physiotherapists, we provide you with thorough, well-considered, and scientifically proven content. All the information given in the articles concerning workout programming, separate exercises, and athletic performance, in general, is based on verified data. We ensure that you can rely on our professionals’ pieces of advice and recommendations that can be treated as personalized ones which will benefit you and fully meet your needs.

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Camila Parente Santos

Author: Camila Parente Santos
Sports Nutritionist

Experience: 7 years

Camila has worked as a Nutritionist for 7 years. In addition to being a nutritionist, she is an amateur weightlifting athlete for 2 years. Camila has experience at Flamengo’s football base and in a food supplement company and currently provides services at a clinic. At the moment she is coursing a postgraduate study in Sports Nutrition.

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Jacek Szymanowski

Reviewed by: Jacek Szymanowski

Certified Nutritionist,
M.Sc.Eng. Biotechnology
Performance architect
,
Strength and Conditioning Specialist

Experience: 20 years

With over 30 years of fighting experience, specialization in nutrition coaching for athletes, and expertise in metabolic health and dietary strategies, Jacek offers a comprehensive approach to optimizing your performance and well-being. Backed by a Master of Science degree in Biotechnology, Jacek remains at the forefront of scientific advancements, ensuring that his coaching is always evidence-based and up-to-date.

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