Difference Between L-Citrulline and Citrulline Malate

L-Citrulline and Citrulline Malate are among the main ingredients used in the majority of pre-workout supplements. Along with caffeine, l-carnitine etc. they make up the most popular and effective pre-workout supplements in the industry.

Why? Because both L-Citrulline & Citrulline Malate can deliver benefits to help you perform better during your gym sessions or any other physical, sports activity. However, not many people know the difference between these 2 ingredients.

Ultimately, you need to know the difference between L-Citrulline and Citrulline Malate – so you can determine which is better than the other.

In this article, you’ll learn:

  • What Is L-Citrulline
  • What’s Citrulline Malate?
  • L-Citrulline vs. Citrulline Malate: Which Is Better?
  • Any Side Effects?
  • Conclusion

What Is L-Citrulline?

Before analyzing the benefits of l-citrulline, it’s important to know what it actually is. Simply put, L-Citrulline is a non-protein amino acid (meaning it doesn’t have a direct function in the formation of muscles).

But where is it found? Find out below…

Natural Sources of L-Citrulline 

It’s naturally found in watermelons; in fact, L-Citrulline’s name originates from the Latin word “Citrullus” which means watermelon. For this reason, it’s no surprise to hear that watermelons are packed with this compound.

But this fruit isn’t the only natural source of L-Citrulline; It’s also found in smaller amounts, in foods such as garlic, onion, milk, fish, beef.

How Does It Work?

The main function of the L-Citrulline in the human organism is to work as an “intermediary” in the formation of arginine. Basically, arginine raises your nitric oxide levels, which increases your blood flow.

Ultimately, this leads to you experiencing enhanced muscle pumps in the gym – great for when you bicep curl or leg press.

Why not consume arginine directly? Good question. This is because arginine has a poor absorption rate, so it’s mostly ineffective when orally supplemented.

Here’s where L-Citrulline comes in; as L-Citrulline has a great absorption rate and turns into arginine in your kidneys. This makes L-Citrulline the more reliable ingredient when aiming to enhance your muscle pumps in the gym (as well as benefiting your heart health, immune system, and circulatory system).


What’s Citrulline Malate?

Citrulline Malate = L-Citrulline + Malic Acid

Citrulline Malate is simply L-Citrulline, with the added benefit of containing malic acid. So, the real question would be –  what is malic acid, and what benefits does it deliver? Find out below…

Malic acid is a natural acid found in many fruits, such as grapes, apples, plums, etc. This acid has a great impact on the Krebs cycle (which is the natural process of getting energy from foods).

All The Benefits of L-Citrulline With Raised ATP Production & Strength

Not only that; malic acid also has a great impact on the production of ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate) – which is the energy that our organism uses.

Ultimately, a high level of ATP during workouts, or any sports activity, is great to decrease fatigue and muscle soreness. We’ll explain whether Citrulline Malate is better than L-Citrulline in the next section below.

L-Citrulline vs. Citrulline Malate: Which Is Better?

Both L-Citrulline and Citrulline Malate are great when aiming to enhance your muscle pumps (and experiencing better workouts). But in this section, we’ll highlight the differences between the 2 ingredients.

It has to be mentioned that the optimal dosage for both L-Citrulline and Citrulline Malate (for exercise and training benefits) is between 6000 to 8000 mg before the session. For non-training purposes (health benefits) the dosage is 3000 mg daily.

The benefits of L-Citrulline are:

  • Enhanced Muscle Pumps
  • Raised Endurance
  • Improved Heart Health & Blood Circulation
  • Reduced Free Radicals

Here’s the added benefit of Citrulline Malate that L-Citrulline doesn’t offer: 

  • Increased ATP Production (Improved Strength)

We’ll go through these benefits in more detail below…


Enhanced Muscle Pumps 

This is the main reason why both L-Citrulline & Citrulline Malate are found in pre-workout supplements; both have proven to improve your muscle pumps (by raising nitric oxide levels) in numerous studies[1].

Simply put, enhanced muscle pumps make you feel great while working out – there’s nothing better than feeling blood rushing to your biceps while pumping iron.

However, many don’t know that the muscle pump also reduces fatigue while increasing your endurance in the gym (both great advantages to help you reach your fitness goals, faster).

Raised Endurance

As we just mentioned, muscle pumps increase your endurance in the gym. Well, we’ll give you evidence through a scientific case study below.

In a clinical examination by Pérez-Guisado J [2]; it was proved that an intake of 8000 mg of Ll-Citrulline improved the resistance and endurance of the participant’s chest workout.

Basically, the subjects managed to increase their reps per set by 52% – considerably reducing their muscle soreness in the process. As you can see, this is a HUGE improvement in their workouts.

Improved Heart Health & Blood Circulation

L-Citrulline & Citrulline Malate can reduce blood pressure and boost nitric oxide production (which has an important role maintaining arterial health and function).

This particular benefit is great when training – in order to further enhance endurance, reduce soreness, and promote muscle growth.

How? Answer: this leads to reduced lactic acid in our muscles which causes muscle ache during and after training.

But that’s not all; studies have also suggested that the L-Citrulline supports people with erectile dysfunction [3].

Reduced Free Radicals

Free radicals are important in the human organism for some functions. However, an excessive amount of these free radicals is related to aging, some types of cancer, neurodegenerative problems, and cardiovascular diseases.

It has been proved that L-Citrulline helps your body with the control and production of free radicals. Reducing the number of free radicals produced during workouts.

Improves ATP Production (Only Citrulline Malate)

As we mentioned before; Citrulline Malate improves the natural process of ATP production. Ultimately, this help you recover faster after your workouts – while improving your strength during your gym session.

In fact, this is why creatine is such a popular bodybuilding ingredient; creatine also raises your ATP production, improving your strength too.



Both L-Citrulline and Citrulline Malate are great options to have in your pre-workouts, they are going to give you almost the same benefits.

However, Citrulline Malate offers all of the benefits of L-Citrulline – as well as adding some extra benefits (increased ATP production and improved strength in the gym).

Final Verdict 

When it comes to deciding which one is better – the answer is definitely Citrulline Malate.

The reason is simple; Citrulline Malate is the combination of L-Citrulline with malic acid (therefore, you are having the benefits of the L-Citrulline and the malic acid at the same time).

As we just mentioned, Citrulline Malate delivers raised ATP production and improved strength in the gym (something that L-Citrulline doesn’t offer, as it doesn’t contain malic acid).

Not only that; Citrulline Malate has also shown to improve the effects of creatine in the body [4]. This is a great benefit if you are consuming creatine, which is another key pre-workout ingredient.

For this reason, Citrulline Malate is a great addition to any pre-workout supplement, when dosed optimally at 6,000mg per serving.


  1. Ochiai M. Short-term effects of L-citrulline supplementation on arterial stiffness in middle-aged men. Int J Cardiol. 2012 Mar 8; 155(2): 257-61.
  2. Pérez-Guisado J. Citrulline malate enhances athletic anaerobic performance and relieves muscle soreness. J Strength Cond Res. 2010 May; 24(5): 1215-22.
  3. Cormio L. Oral L-citrulline supplementation improves erection hardness in men with mild erectile dysfunction. Urology. 2011 Jan; 77(1): 119-22.
  4. Sureda A. L-citrulline-malate influence over branched chain amino acid utilization during exercise. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2010 Sep; 110(2): 341-51.
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