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Improve Endurance with Citrulline Malate

by Ross Edgley
Saturday 12th May 2012
Tags  Citrulline Malate   |   Myprotein   |   Ross Edgley

Myprotein.com Sports Scientist Ross Edgley looks at just how this supplement works and why so many endurance athletes are using it

Whether you find yourself in a head-to-head sprint finish during the final 400 metres of a marathon or you just need that little something to improve your endurance during an intense training session, many studies advocate the use of a supplement called Citrulline Malate. But what is it? How does it work? And why are so many endurance athletes using it?

Citrulline Malate is a unique combination of the amino acid citrulline and the organic salt malate that has been shown in numerous studies to ‘improve athletic performance’ (Pérez-Guisado, Joaquín, 2010). However more recently scientists have tried to discover specifically where the performance enhancing abilities of citrulline malate come from, with some amazing results.

Citrulline Malate and the aerobic energy system:

A study conducted at the Centre de Résonance Magnétique Biologique et Médicale in France found as little as 6 grams of Citrulline Malate resulted in a significant reduction in the sensation of fatigue through a 34% increase in the rate of oxidative adenosine triphosphate production during exercise and a 20% increase in the rate of phosphocreatine recovery after exercise, indicating a larger contribution of oxidative ATP synthesis to energy production (Benedahan et al., 2002).

Put more simply this just means Citrulline Malate is able to increase the body’s ability to supply the muscles with oxygen and therefore increase the regeneration of adenosine triphosphate, a molecule that is needed for the muscles to contract and work efficiently.

Citrulline Malate and lactic acid:

Secondly the most publicised advantage of supplementing with Citrulline Malate is its ability to buffer lactic acid in the muscles when working at a high intensity. Obviously of huge importance since numerous studies have shown lactic acid greatly impairs sports performance. It’s theorised Citrulline Malate does this in 2 ways:

  • Enhancing the body’s aerobic energy system (this is the energy system used by the body that requires oxygen ) which in turn reduces the demand of the anaerobic system (this is the energy system used by the body that doesn’t require oxygen and is the energy system responsible for producing lactic acid)


  • Increasing the levels of bicarbonates in the blood since bicarbonates are vital to controlling blood lactate levels by buffering lactic acid molecules and protecting against increased acidity of the blood, known as acidosis (Callis et al, 1991).

Therefore in conclusion it’s shown Citrulline Malate could improve performance by increasing your resistance to fatigue by reducing blood lactate levels, enhancing the body’s aerobic energy production and increasing the phospho-creatine recovery (i.e. enhancing ATP stores) and whilst successful dosage of the product varies from study to study, the most commonly cited dosage seems to be 4g. So next time you’re about to embark on a marathon run, try adding 4 grams of Citrulline Malate to your sports bottle. 250g of Citrulline Malate is available from Myprotein.com for £23.49 http://www.myprotein.com/uk/products/citrulline_malate



Dr Albert Callis (1991) ‘Mode of action of the association of malic acid- citrulline on the elimination of ammonia and the recovery of bicarbonate’ Ministerio de Education Y Ciencia

Bendahan, D., Mattei, J. P., Ghattas, B., Confort-Gouny, S., Le Guern, M. E. and Cozzone, P. J. (2002) Citrulline/malate promotes aerobic energy production in human exercising muscle.  British Journal of Sports Medicine. 36 (4), 282-289.

Callis, A., Magnan de Bornier, B., Serrano, J. J., Bellet, H. and Saumade, R. (1991) Activity of citruline malate on acid-base balance and blood ammonia and amino acid levels. Study in the animal and in man. Arzneimittelforschung. 41 (6), 660-663.

Vanuxem, D., Duflot, J. C., Prevot, H., et al., (1990) Influence of an anti-asthenia agent, citrulline malate, on serum lactate and ammonia kinetics during a maximum exercise test in sedentary subjects. Seminaire des Hopitaux de Paris. 66, 477-481.


About The Author

Ross Edgley

Sports Scientist with a BSc Degree in Sports Science from Loughborough University Ross Edgley was a Strength and Conditioning Coach at The English Institute of Sport working alongside Britain’s Olympic Physicians, Nutritionists and S&C coaches and is currently fitness and nutrition advisor to a range of celebrities, athletes and what is considered the UK’s most innovative sports nutrition company http://www.theproteinworks.com


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