If you’ve looked at many of the preworkout product labels, you’ve probably noticed that arginine (a renowned precursor to nitric oxide) has started to be replaced by a new amino acid for energy: citrulline.
It seems that this supplement can become a better preworkout due to its absorption capacity, much higher compared to arginine.
Why is citrulline such a good energizer for the gym?
Citrulline is found in two forms: l-citrulline and citrulline malate. L-citrulline is the free form of this amino acid whereas citrulline malate is actually citrulline to which a malic acid molecule has been attached. Studies confirm that both l-citrulline and citrulline malate provide significant increases in sports performance, but only consumed in the right doses.
Doses of 1-3 grams of l-citrulline offer a better pumping than citrus malate. Citrulline malate improves strength and endurance during workouts better than l-citrulline. However, if you increase the dose of citrulline malate to 6 grams, it will also give you a significant increase in muscle strength and endurance while increasing muscle pumping efficiently.
Let’s go more into the details of the problem of this energizer for the gym. Citrulline is an amino acid that is linked to arginine. In the body, the arginine-nitric oxide pathway is used to convert arginine into nitric oxide with the help of the NOS enzyme (nitric oxide synthase) to catalyze the reaction. Increasing nitric oxide levels relax the blood vessels, allowing them to increase their diameter and even expand. Dilated blood vessels provide better circulation to tissues such as muscles.
The two main benefits of better circulation in muscle fibers are higher energy / resistance to workouts and improved pumping during workouts. The increased endurance and energy is due to the fact that more blood is pumped to the trained muscles and this provides more oxygen and nutrients to them. Better circulation increases muscle pumping during workouts due to the fact that blood is formed in more than 50% water. When you train, muscle cells create waste products that draw water to them. With this better circulation to the muscles, there is more water available to the muscle cells, resulting in better muscle pumping … which I see everyone is going for, maybe even forgetting that this doesn’t have to do with mass growth.
Citrulline – supplement for muscle growth?
While some experts believe that muscle pumping has no physiological significance, the truth is that long term it can lead to muscle development. This is because the pumped muscles are stretching better the cell membranes of the muscles. This stretch signals chemical reactions that encourage long-term muscle growth by improving muscle protein synthesis.
Some experts also comment that nitric oxide boosters do not have any benefit for healthy individuals, especially during training. It is quite difficult not to give them justice. Studies on ingredients that stimulate nitric oxide, such as arginine, show varied results. However, there are also plenty of men and women who have been able to see safe benefits that include improved strength and endurance, even more significant muscle development. And a recent study even reported that subjects who consumed arginine 30 minutes before biceps training have increased blood volume during training by over 100%.
Citrulline – better than arginine for increasing the level of argin in the body
Of course, citrulline is an even better stimulator of nitric oxide. This has been proven by several studies. The first discovered that subjects that took identical doses of citrulline and arginine had higher levels of arginine in their blood after consuming citrulline. A subsequent German study reported that half a liter of citrulline was necessary for the same effects.
German researchers have also found that a dose of 3 grams of citrulline can produce an even greater increase of arginine and nitric oxide. The reason why citrulline is better than arginine seems to be due to the fact that arginine is excessively decomposed in the body after it is consumed. This is because of the anginase enzyme that mainly resides in the intestines and liver.
In fact, one study showed that the amount of arginine consumed by oral supplements for nitric oxide production was at a very low 1%. Citrulline does not pass through the liver, unlike arginine and is not decomposed by arginase. Therefore, the use of citrulline as a stimulant before training instead of arginine will result an increased production of arginine and nitric oxide in the body.
Another study found that 80% of the amount of l-citrulline is converted to arginine in blood vessels. Even another study made on professional cyclists showed that supplementation with citrulline caused a significant increase in nitric oxide production during training.
In addition to increasing nitric oxide levels, the use of citrulline to improve arginine levels in the body has also led to increased levels of human growth hormone (GH). This is due to the ability of arginine to inhibit the hormone that inhibits the production of GH, somatostatin. By inhibiting this hormone, arginine increases GH production and discharge from the anterior pituitary gland, leading to higher serum GH levels.
Citrulline helps to burn fat and increase muscle mass
Spanish researchers declared that growth hormone levels during workouts have increased after the administration of citrulline malate. Higher levels of GH can lead to significant increases in muscle mass and strength. They can also encourage more significant fat burning during workouts due to the lipolysis process, which means that the growth hormone also encourages fat release from fat cells in order to be used as a fuel source during workouts.
Citrulline has another benefit. It appears to have the ability to improve the release of ammonia and lacteous from the bloodstream, resulting in increased physical endurance and delayed fatigue installation. This will also mean a better and faster recovery after workouts between sets.
I already feel tired but let’s continue …
Citrulline increases the recovery capacity after workouts
The consumption of citrulline in the form of citrulline malate also brings an additional advantage through the presence of malate, which is involved in the Krebs cycle of aerobic energy generation in the form of ATP (adenosine triphosphate). ATP is the monetary system of each cell.
In muscle cells it is used as fuel for muscle contractions, such as those during workouts. Studies made on athletes have shown that citrulline malate significantly enhances the ATP amount that muscles have the ability to regenerate and increase the rate of regeneration of phosphocreatine (Pcr).
Phosphocreatine is the product in which creatine is transformed into muscle cells by the addition of a high-energy group of phosphates. This is essential when doing strength workouts. You will have more resistance during the workouts and you will recover faster even during the workouts, between sets.