Citrulline Malate vs. l-Citrulline Comparison – Which is better?

By Jessica Kelley | Nutrition



When it comes to pre-workout supplements and performance enhancers, a couple of them were the kings for years - caffeine and especially creatine. However, new names are continually appearing on the market, and some of them are attracting much attention.

L-citrulline and Citrulline malate are currently one of the most popular pre-workout supplements. They will give you that extra kick that you need to push your limits, pulling few more sets and reps, and going that extra mile. Since athletic performance is all about breaking your limits and plateaus, supplements that make this a bit easier are incredibly valuable.

 In this article, we will explain to you what are L-citrulline and Citrulline Malate, and why you should consider adding them to your supplementation routine. We will talk about the positive effects they have on the body and the recommended dosage. We will also make a comparison between these two, but also with L-arginine, which is another favorite pre-workout supplement. Stay tuned!

What is L-citrulline?

First, about the name - the first thing many people think when they hear about citrulline is that it has something to do with lemon, oranges or similar fruit - citruses. But actually, L-citrulline is found in watermelon, and it was isolated from it in the '30. The Latin name for watermelon is Citrullus, and that is where the name comes from.


L-citrulline is a non-essential amino acid. That means that your body is already producing it, naturally. In other words, you do not need to add it to your diet in order to stay healthy. However, once taken, it will boost your performance, and that is why athletes and people who hit the gym like it so much.

As other NO reactors, Citrulline enhances the blood flow to muscles, increases oxygen delivery, increases glucose absorption which also speeds up the recovery process and triggers muscle growth. It also helps to reduce the buildup of lactic acid, fighting fatigue, and helping you train hard for longer in a single session. In short, L-citrulline will help you both inside the gym, boosting your performance, and outside of it, speeding up recovery and enhancing muscle growth.

What is citrulline malate?

Citrulline malate is the L-citrulline that is upgraded by adding malic acid. Malic acid can be found in many fruits, but it was first isolated from apples, and that is the origin of its name - "mālum" is "apple" on latin. Citrulline malate = watermelons + apples, brewed by some Walter White. 🙂

At first glance, adding malic acid this might seem like not that important, but it makes a big difference. This simple formula change will increase overall energy production in the body, further improving performance. The malic acid will further increase the blood flow to your muscles, building upon the positive effects of L-citrulline even more.

The difference is notable - you will experience a bigger pump and will be noticeably less fatigued while working out, allowing you to spend more time at the gym, which equals to more significant gains in the long run.

What Happens in The Body?

Upon ingestion, L-citrulline is transferred from the intestines into the kidneys, where it is converted into L-arginine. After that, it is released into the bloodstream, ready to be used by the body. L-arginine is involved in NO synthase, production of Nitric oxide in our bodies, which has a vital role in our immune system, and overall hearth and blood vessel health.

How Does Citrulline Compare to L-arginine?

This article is about L-citrulline and Citrulline Malate, but it would not be complete without mentioning one of their close "pump" cousins - L-arginine. L-arginine is another popular NO supplement that is in use for quite some time. L-arginine, L-citrulline, and Citrulline malate all aim to increase the arginine levels in the blood. Taking L-arginine might seem like the first logical choice if you intend to raise arginine levels. However, L-citrulline has better absorption than L-arginine, which is removed from the body relatively quickly.

Studies show that Citrulline-based supplements raise blood arginine levels almost three times better than those based on arginine. Citrulline malate, as a superior version of L-citrulline, is absorbed even better. Also, citrulline (malate) has fewer side-effects than L-arginine.

Main Benefits  L-Citrulline and Citrulline Malate Supplements

  • Reducing fatigue - this is the number one reason why people take pre-workout in the first place. Both L-citrulline and Citrulline malate will allow you to workout under intensity for prolonged periods of time. This will result in more sets and reps, or increased mileage on the treadmill, which will eventually show in increased hypertrophy and/or weight loss.
  • Better blood flow - both supplements will increase the blood flow in your body, which will supplement your muscles with oxygen and nutrients, enhancing performance but also growth.
  • Decreased blood pressure - these supplements will increase NO levels in your blood, which will make your blood vessels to dilate, and this will reduce blood pressure, both systolic and diastolic.
  • Good for the heart - L-citrulline based supplements will increase the volume of blood pumped through the right ventricle, and lower the blood pressure in the pulmonary artery. Also, studies show that these supplements improve the function of both the right and left ventricles, and the endothelial function of the heart.
  • Helps with erectile dysfunction - since it has so many benefits on blood flow, NO levels, and blood pressure, L-citrulline naturally has positive effects on ED. This is probably not the #1 reason why you would consider taking citrulline, but still, it will not hurt. 🙂

Side Effects


L-citrulline and citrulline malate are pretty new names in the supplementation market. Studies and experiments show that these supplements are safe. However, there are not many studies for now, at least not when compared to creatine for example, which is around for decades. That does not mean these supplements are dangerous; it only means that you should be a bit more careful introducing them to your body.

The main known side effect of using L-citrulline and citrulline malate is irritated stomach and bowels. However, compared to L-arginine, these symptoms are much milder.

As with any other supplement, you plan to intake, consult your doctor first, and start introducing it gradually, to see how your body reacts.



For reducing fatigue and increasing athletic performance you should take 2400 mg of L-citrulline or 6-8 grams of citrulline malate per day. You should take these supplements around your workouts For other purposes, such as treating ED, high blood pressure, etc. the dosage is different, but you should consult your doctor to check the exact amount. Also, if you are taking other medications, ask your physician before taking any supplements.

Just be careful about one thing - you need to make sure you get the adequate dosage to improve performance. Taking too much is not healthy, but taking too little will not do anything, and is a waste of money. If a supplement says "contains citrulline" that does not mean it contains enough of it.

Be extra careful with citrulline malate - it is usually a one-to-one ratio of citrulline and malate, which means that if you take 2 grams of it, you intake 1 gram of citrulline and 1 gram of malate. L-citrulline supplements, on the other hand, are isolates - if you take 1g, you get 1g of L-citrulline.


It goes like this:

L-arginine < L-citrulline < Citrulline malate

Since L-citrulline beats L-arginine in absorption, it is only natural that Citrulline malate, as a superior version of L-citrulline, is the best of all three. Citrulline malate has all the benefits of L-citrulline, with even better energy production and blood flow. This will decrease your fatigue even more, pushing your limits and allowing you to go for that extra rep. Moreover, that "extra rep" is exactly what you need to increase your strength, hypertrophy or to run an extra mile, building endurance or losing weight.



About the Author

I am Jessica, co-founder of We work to inspire, educate and empower our readers with all the latest updates and authentic information. Our goal is to bring up the “Healthy attitude” among people in the world. On you will find high-quality health information, fitness tips, diet charts and answer to all your health queries.