L-citrulline has long been used by athletes from all disciplines as a way to increase workout pump, recovery, and reduce soreness. Even though it’s popular, many users still don’t know exactly what it does and how it works.
WHAT IS L-CITRULLINE?
L-citrulline belongs to a special class of amino acids. Most amino acids are broken down in the stomach or intestine and used to build muscle tissue. But L-citrulline is a non-protein amino acids that bypasses the stomach and is processed in the kidneys.
Because it isn’t used for direct muscle growth, L-citrulline is free to contribute to a variety of processes and athletic benefits.
In the kidneys, L-citrulline is converted into arginine and nitric oxide. These compounds dilate blood vessels and boost blow flow, which bathes muscles in nutrients and oxygen, improving power and recovery ability.
This boost in blood, oxygen, and nutrients is commonly known as a workout “pump.” It gives an immediate increase in energy, muscle power, and size and helps recovery.
Increasing workout pump is the most noticeable benefit of L-citrulline, but it also helps maintain white blood cell count. This keeps your immune system strong and reduces time needed for healing.
Most athletes are familiar with L-citrulline capsules, but you can also get it from food, mostly squash, watermelon, and cucumber.
HOW IS L-CITRULLINE PROCESSED?
To understand what benefits we get from L-citrulline, we first have to look at some biology. Don’t worry, we’ll keep it short!
The majority of amino acids are broken down in the liver and intestines and absorbed for muscle growth. This is efficient and works well for recovery.
However, because L-citrulline is a non-protein amino acid, it bypasses the liver heads straight to the kidneys, where it’s broken down into arginine and nitric oxide. This is where the real magic starts.
BOOSTING WORKOUT “PUMP”
The most noticeable, immediate effect of L-citrulline is an increase in blood flow, commonly known by athletes as a “pump.”
After conversion in the kidneys, the resulting arginine relaxes blood vessels, making them dilate for more blood flow. Nitric acid backs up this process, pumping to the muscles. The result is a flood of blood, nutrients, and oxygen to muscle tissue during workouts, increasing perceived energy and power.
It may seem counterintuitive, but this workout pump leads to a decrease in overall blood pressure, which can be especially helpful at getting blood pressure reading into a healthy range for individuals with high blood pressure.
Everyone wants more power during exercise, but studies have shown that increasing workout pump improves more than just performance. Because muscles have more materials to work with, they heal faster and aren’t as sore or fatigued during and after exercise.
More nutrients obviously leads to better growth, but L-citrulline also has an interesting effect on recovery because of its effects on blood.
Following heavy workouts, white blood cell count drops, decreasing immune strength and healing. L-citrulline prevents this white blood cell decline and immune drop. One French study found this prevention may significantly decrease soreness, especially in new athletes.
While no one want to get injured, most of us have had sprains or tears. By boosting white blood cells and immune health, L-citrulline accelerates healing, getting us back on track.
Finally, while L-citrulline doesn’t directly contribute to growth, researchers have found it may increase the rate of protein use in building new muscle tissue. It essentially boosts the benefits of other amino acids.
TYING IT ALL TOGETHER
When we look at the immediate, effective benefits of L-citrulline, it’s no surprise athletes from all disciplines are using it. It’s natural, safe for most people, works quickly, improves power, and reduces soreness.
Getting a high-quality source of L-citrulline is important. Experts recommend between 200 and 1000 milligrams to boost performance, so look for a supplement with a dose in that range.
L-citrulline is a great ingredient, and we expect to see it continue to grow in popularity.