By Joey Rodriguez
It is said that greatness stands the test of time. And it was some time ago I first introduced the US sports nutrition industry to a new amino acid derivative by the name of Citrulline Malate (CM). Citrulline Malate had just made its way to the US from European labs that were using this compound as an experimental treatment for chronic fatigue – primarily in France under the brand name Stimol®. Since then, a proven track record of results in combination with synergistic applications of CM has been seen with this must-use active ingredient that is both safe and effective at enhancing athletic performance.
WHAT IS CITRULLINE MALATE?
Citrulline Malate can benefit just about any individual in any sport. Bodybuilding, MMA, basketball, football, soccer, cycling – the list goes on. CM’s applications even extend into the medical world (some of it’s earliest usages) where it has been used and proven effective for over 35 years in Europe as a treatment for fatigue and dementia.
This unique combination of the amino acid Citrullline and the organic salt Malate offers athletes with a proven system to improve performance and recovery. For example, during intense physical activity, protein metabolism, and muscle catabolism, by-products called endotoxins are released within your body’s active musculature. These endotoxins damage living cells and wreak havoc on athletic performance. As an intermediate in the Urea Cycle, Citrulline aids in the removal of endotoxins such as lactic acid and ammonia.
Researches also point to Citrulline as possibly a greater alternative to Arginine for enhancing plasma Arginine levels because of Citrulline’s effects on endogenous Arginine synthesis – meaning that CM may be a superior alternative to Arginine for regulating Nitric Oxide production, growth hormone release, insulin and creatine production.
And that’s not all, it has also been discovered that supplementing CM at a clinically effective dose of 6 grams per day significantly reduced muscle fatigue, increased ATP production by 34%, and caused a 20% increase in Phosphocreatine recovery after exercise. What this means is that Citrulline Malate improved aerobic metabolism, cellular energy production, and promoted muscular recovery.
HOW EXACTLY DOES CITRULLINE MALATE WORK?
Citrulline Malate works by powering ATP (major energy source for muscles) production and by eliminating metabolic pollutants such as Lactic Acid and Ammonia from the blood. Citrulline stimulates energy, boosts the immune system and is metabolized to form L-Arginine, resulting in the regulation of Nitric Oxide production and the detoxification of cell-damaging ammonia. All exercise results in production of Ammonia. Malate conditions the recycling of lactate and pyruvate and is part of the kreb cycle and can supply instant and sustained energy. While the Citrulline part of Citrulline Malate acts to increase NO and to eliminate performance inhibiting metabolic toxins, the Malate part keeps our energy cycle going.
Citrulline Malate also aids in recovery. Subsequent to exercise, muscle levels of creatine phosphate are reduced and it takes some time for levels to be re-elevated. The more Creatine Phosphate your muscles have the stronger and better able to perform they will be. Citrulline Malate stimulates phosphocreatine recovery after exercise, meaning faster recuperation between workouts, and muscles that are primed for growth and your next training session.
DOES CITRULLINE MALATE ONLY HELP WITH AEROBIC ENERGY PRODUCTION?
Most of the studies on Citrulline Malate show an increased ability to produce energy through our body’s aerobic energy producing cycle. Strength athletes tend to be more concerned with increasing anaerobic energy which is used for explosive movements. Studies clearly show that CM favors the renal (having to do with the kidneys) reabsorption of bicarbonates and protects against metabolic acidosis.
Anaerobic work involves the breakdown of glycogen. As a result of depleted glycogen stores from anaerobic work, Hydrogen Ions (H+) and lactic Acid in the muscle and blood both increase.
This rise in H+ is what causes an increase in acidity in the muscle and leads to the burning sensation of the muscles, fatigue and the failure to maintain high exercise intensity for prolonged periods. It is believed this decrease in ph and increase in acidity is what results in muscular fatigue and the decreased ability for the muscle to contract.
Bicarbonates are our body’s way of coping with the increased levels of H+ and a decreased pH. Bicarbonates work by stimulating the removal of H+ and lactic acid out of the muscle. So by aiding in the reabsorption of bicarbonates, CM may also help with increasing the anaerobic threshold and delaying the build up of H+ and lactic acid.
HOW SHOULD CITRULLINE BE TAKEN?
Citrulline Malate is best taken on an empty stomach prior to exercise. Additional doses can be taken first thing in the morning upon rising and also before going to sleep. Because CM can enhance plasma Arginine levels, it makes sense to use Citrulline Malate at the optimal times for Arginine supplementation. CM is extremely safe and there are no known negative side effects from its use. You can find CM in a wide variety of products from straight up commodity forms to performance-enhancing matrices like Nutrabolics Supernova.
CAN IT'S EFFECTS BE BOOSTED?
What really makes this an innovative ingredient though is that it contains synergistic properties which combine with the effects of other active ingredients. For example, when stacked with Beta- Alanine (also contained in Nutrabolics Supernova) Citrulline also works to boosts anaerobic capacity and buffers lactic acid – great for heavy lifting sessions. Other ingredients that experience synergy with CM include: L-Carnitine (spares glycogen, increases VO2 Max, supports hormonal response to training), Beet Root (NO booster and stamina booster, Agmatine (NO booster and growth hormone booster), Arginine (NO booster) , Creatine (power and endurance booster).
In summary, Citrulline Malate is an incredibly safe supplement with a clinically proven effectiveness in optimizing performance. Whether you’re a weekend warrior or a seasoned athlete CM is a must have in your supplement arsenal if you want to get the most out of your training. Make sure that your supplement of choice clearly lists the dose of Citrulline Malate on the bottle so you know you are getting enough to produce results.
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