Best Citrulline Supplements for Pre-Workout, Vegans, and More

Find out which citrulline supplement could hold the key to boosting your performance in the gym.

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Citrulline is a popular pre-workout supplement that may increase blood flow, with some studies suggesting that it might help with power output and endurance during workouts. This non-essential amino acid is produced in the body, and it’s found in nature in legumes, organ meat, and especially watermelon — the name “citrulline” is actually derived from the Latin word for watermelon — and there are dozens of different supplements on the market including powders, pills, and citrulline malate, a form that might be more useful for improving energy production.

Whether you’re looking for a straightforward citrulline supplement, a pre-workout with citrulline, or even a nitric oxide supplement that contains citrulline, we’ve done some digging to find the best citrulline products on the market today. Stick with us to pick one out for yourself, and learn about all the potential benefits citrulline has to offer. 

Best Citrulline Overall

This pick hits a lot of the essentials we like to see in a basic supplement like citrulline: It sports a low price, has a clean formulation, and is paired with malic acid, which is why it scored our top spot overall. 

Swolverine Citrulline Malate

With only two ingredients, Swolverine’s Citrulline Malate is a BarBend favorite for potentially delaying muscle fatigue and improving recovery. Its 2:1 ratio of citrulline to malic acid can also allow for quicker absorption, and may help with stamina. Malic acid is a nice addition to the citrulline here because these two ingredients work synergistically to provide a possible boost in power and speed, and might make a difference in vascularity. This formula may help promote the production of nitric oxide, which can help with circulation. One of the great benefits of better circulation is that it can potentially lead to better pumps during your workout, making this an ideal add for pre or intra-workout hydration. 

This product comes in an unflavored option, so it can be added to anything from water to coffee without fear of altering the flavor of your beverage. With 60 servings of 5,000mg of citrulline malate at a $56.99 price point, this supplement comes in a bit more expensive than other options, but the 5,000mg serving size of pure product may make this cost worth it. 

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Swolverine Citrulline Malate
Swolverine Citrulline Malate
Swolverine Citrulline Malate

Swolverine Citrulline Malate contains 5,000mg of citruline malate — l-citrulline and malic acid. This 2:1 ratio of citrulline to malic acid can allow for quicker absorption and may help with stamina

Who Should Buy Swolverine Citrulline Malate

  • Folks who want potentially better pumps during their workout while simultaneously delaying muscle fatigue to push their workouts further will like the addition of the malic acid here. In combination with the citrulline, it has potential to boost performance and endurance. 
  • Anyone who wants a straightforward citrulline supplement will like that the only ingredients here are l-Citrulline and malic acid.
  • Those who prefer their supplements to be flavorless will appreciate that this comes unflavored. 

Who Shouldn’t Buy Swolverine Citrulline Malate

  • Anyone looking for a flavored product will want to look elsewhere. 
  • People who are on a budget can find cheaper alternatives on the market.

This pick is clean, simple, and one of the top-rated products on the market — if you’re looking for an option that doesn’t hide its citrulline behind additives and artificial flavorings, Swolverine’s Citrulline Malate is your answer.

Best Pre-Workout for Citrulline

This supplement is more than just a citrulline product — it contains a wide range of potently dosed pre-workout ingredients, including a high dose of citrulline. 

Huge Supplements Wrecked

Huge Supplements Wrecked contains 18 high doses of pre-workout ingredients. It has 9,000mg of citrulline malate, 3,200mg of beta alanine, 350mg of caffeine, and 2,000mg of betaine anhydrous. All of these numbers are above the market average when it comes to pre-workouts. Wrecked also contains 1,000mg of tyrosine that can help with focus and 100mg of Himalayan pink sea salt for a potential boost in hydration. It’s worth noting that the Huge Supplements site doesn’t explain its ingredients extensively, so if you’re concerned about the reasoning behind the doses and ingredient inclusions, you may want to opt for a different pick.

Huge Supplements Wrecked
Huge Supplements Wrecked
Huge Supplements Wrecked

This product packs 18 ingredients at high doses, including 9,000mg of citrulline malate, 3,200mg of beta alanine, 350mg of caffeine, and 2,000mg of betaine anhydrous. Plus, you’ll find 1,000mg of tyrosine and 100mg of Himalayan pink sea salt, as well.

Who Should Buy Huge Supplements Wrecked

  • Folks who are looking for citrulline within a pre-workout supplement will like this product.
  • Athletes looking for a high dose of citrulline — this supp has 9,000mg here. 
  • People who want an extensive supplement will appreciate that this product contains 18 helpful ingredients. 

Who Shouldn’t Buy Huge Supplements Wrecked

  • If you want a thorough dosage or ingredient explanation, the Huge Supplements site may leave something to be desired. 
  • Customers who want a product that is free of caffeine will want to look elsewhere. 

If you already take a pre-workout, it may be convenient to have a pre-workout that contains citrulline, so you don’t need to add another supplement to your regimen — this pick checks that box.

Best Bulk Buy Citrulline

If you want to buy as much citrulline as you can to avoid having to shop every month, this product contains 100 servings per container. 

Swolverine Citrulline Malate

Swolverine Citrulline Malate contains 100 servings per container, which will last you over three month’s time. Plus, if you don’t want to have to remember to replenish your stash, you can subscribe to have your citrulline delivered every one, two, three, or four months for a 15 percent discount off each order. This no-frills citrulline has no added ingredients and just contains 5,000mg of 2:1 citrulline malate. Swolverine is extraordinarily inexpensive and unflavored, so it won’t change the taste of the beverage you add it to. 

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Swolverine Citrulline Malate
Swolverine Citrulline Malate
Swolverine Citrulline Malate

Swolverine Citrulline Malate contains 5,000mg of citruline malate — l-citrulline and malic acid. This 2:1 ratio of citrulline to malic acid can allow for quicker absorption and may help with stamina

Who Should Buy Swolverine Citrulline Malate

  • Anyone on a budget will appreciate that each serving here costs less than $0.60.
  • Folks who want to buy in bulk. This supplement comes in containers of 100 servings, and it has a subscription option. 
  • Athletes who want a citrulline malate that may be better absorbed than plain citrulline. 

Who Shouldn’t Buy Swolverine Citrulline Malate

  • People who don’t want to commit to purchasing 100 servings off the bat can find a less expensive (and smaller) container. 
  • Those who want a citrulline supplement with added flavor will want to look elsewhere. 

If you are trying to keep supplement spending down, and want a really solid product with simple ingredients, look no further.

Best Citrulline for Nitric Oxide Production

For an option that’s got l-citrulline along with 12 other ingredients that can help pump you up for your workout, Huge Supplements Pump Serum has you covered when it comes to providing nitric oxide production to take your workout to the next level.

Huge Supplements Pump Serum

This preworkout boasts 8,000mg of l-citrulline as the main driver for nitric oxide delivery, but it also contains beet root extract, which is a natural pre-workout due to its high nitrate content. This combination of ingredients could be the pre-workout driver you need to get a great pump during your workout. With the options of Jungle Juice, Strawberry Mojito, Cherry Berry, and Island Dream flavors, you have four delicious flavors to choose from. 

Huge Supplements Pump Serum rings in at $54.95 for a tub containing 25 servings, making it a middle ground priced option for pre-workout. Because the clinically effective dose of citrulline is between 3,000 to 6,000mg a day, the 8,000mg of l-citrulline in this formula makes this a more potent form of citrulline, meaning you may be able to get away with taking smaller doses with similar results in your pump.

Huge Supplements Pump Serum
Huge Supplements Pump Serum
Huge Supplements Pump Serum

This pre-workout contains 8,000mg of l-citrulline. This high level of citrulline combined with other patented ingredients, like GlyerPump, make this product a potent nitric oxide supplement.

Who Should Buy Huge Supplements Pump Serum

  • Anyone who wants to pair their l-citrulline with other nitric oxide boosting ingredients like beet root powder will love this pre-workout option.
  • Folks who want an above average dose of citrulline — this product contains 8,000mg per scoop. 
  • People who prefer to avoid caffeine intake with their supplements will enjoy this stimulant-free formula. 

Who Shouldn’t Buy Huge Supplements Pump Serum

  • Those who want a formula with a more basic list of ingredients can find l-citrulline with fewer added ingredients in simpler formulas on the market. 
  • Customers who are looking for a more budget-friendly option can find less expensive supps.

Due to the high amount of 8,000mg of l-citrulline alongside 3,000mg of beet root powder extract in each scoop, Huge Supplements Pump Serum can provide the added benefit of getting a serious pump due to the potential boost in nitric oxide production. 

Best Citrulline Pills

For anyone on the go, these third-party tested, gluten-free capsules will keep you fueled for your workout even when you don’t have time to mix up a powder drink.

Nutricost L-Citrulline

Nutricost produces a lot of inexpensive supplements and their citrulline pills hit a nice sweet spot between quality and value. According to the manufacturer, the citrulline is non-GMO, it’s gluten-free, it’s made in an FDA-registered facility, and it’s third-party tested to ensure purity and label accuracy. On a per gram basis, this is a pretty inexpensive citrulline product, particularly given the fact that it comes in capsules. This form of citrulline is easy to consume on the go, which is a nice boon for avid travelers. If you’re a vegetarian, you’ll have to look elsewhere though as there is gelatin in these capsules. Additionally, the added fillers to streamline production could be a turn-off for some.

Nutricost L-Citrulline
Nutricost L-Citrulline
Nutricost L-Citrulline

According to the manufacturer, this product is non-GMO, gluten free, made in an FDA-registered facility, and third-party tested, taking the cake when it comes to non-powder options. 

Who Should Buy Nutricost L-Citrulline

  • Anyone who prefers easy-to-consume supplements.
  • Athletes who travel often with supplements.
  • People on a tight budget.

Who Shouldn’t Buy Nutricost L-Citrulline

  • The capsules are made from gelatin, so they’re not vegetarian-friendly.
  • The capsules also contain magnesium stearate and stearic acid, which help keep the powder from sticking to the machinery in the facility in which it’s made — some consider these “fillers” undesirable.

If you are in the market for a capsulated citrulline supplement, then these are certainly a top-tier consideration, as long as you’re not vegetarian. 

Best Citrulline Malate

If you want a product with a simple ingredient list and a solid dose of malic acid, this pick can be easily absorbed and has the potential to increase your stamina.

Swolverine Citrulline Malate

Naturally found in fruits, malic acid contributes to the sour tastes in apples, and could also play a critical role in the citric acid cycle (or Krebs cycle), allowing for quicker absorption and increased stamina. Whether or not this leads to more reps in the gym is unclear, but citrulline malate could be a promising addition to your supplement stash if you prioritize absorption. This particular supplement contains 5,000mg of citrulline malate per serving, which is a fairly high dosage. With no other ingredients, this supp is about as straightforward as they come.

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Swolverine Citrulline Malate
Swolverine Citrulline Malate
Swolverine Citrulline Malate

Swolverine Citrulline Malate contains 5,000mg of citruline malate — l-citrulline and malic acid. This 2:1 ratio of citrulline to malic acid can allow for quicker absorption and may help with stamina

Who Should Buy Swolverine Citrulline Malate

  • Those who are looking for malic acid in addition to their citrulline to potentially help with absorption. 
  • Anyone who wants a high dose of citrulline will appreciate the 5,000mg per serving here.
  • Customers who want a cost effective product they can buy in bulk — this container contains 100 servings. 

Who Shouldn’t Buy Swolverine Citrulline Malate

  • Folks who want a flavored powder will want to look elsewhere. 
  • Those who want other ingredients along with their citrulline may opt for a pre-workout supplement. 
  • Anyone who doesn’t want to commit to buying 100 servings at once can find less expensive containers out there with fewer servings. 

While the effects of malic acid still need some research, it may have the potential to help you pump heavier weights for longer at the gym, and if that’s something you’re interested in doing, Swolverine Citrulline Malate will not lead you astray. 

Best Citrulline for Vegans

Inexpensive and one of the few vegan-friendly citrulline supplements, Doctor’s Best has put together a solid product that is third-party tested and non-GMO. 

Doctor’s Best L-Citrulline

The manufacturer ensures this product is vegan, non-GMO, soy-free, gluten-free, made in a cGMP facility (which means the FDA has given a thumbs up on the manufacturing facility), and perhaps most importantly, is third-party tested for label accuracy and purity. With so many options on the market that are third-party tested, you really shouldn’t consider one whose label hasn’t been fact-checked. 

Doctor's Best L-Citrulline
Doctor's Best L-Citrulline
Doctor's Best L-Citrulline

A well-priced citrulline that's vegan friendly and third-party tested for purity, this product contains three grams of high-quality l-citrulline per scoop. 

Who Should Buy Doctor’s Best L-Citrulline

  • Folks who value products made in a current good manufacturing practices facility.
  • Anyone who follows a vegan diet.

Who Shouldn’t Buy Doctor’s Best L-Citrulline

  • Anyone anxious about secure packaging during delivery.
  • Customers looking for a less expensive option — this pick does sell at a higher price point than some others on this list. 

If you’re looking for a vegan-friendly product, this product’s label is fact-checked and completely free of animal products — though, you can expect to pay a touch more for its purity.

How We Decided Our Picks

There are a handful of categories that we used to weed out the best of the best. Here is how we broke it down.

Dosage vs. Cost

Pretty straightforward ranking system here. If all products are created equal, we rank the less expensive options as better picks. That is, of course, an oversimplification of how we sifted through each pick, but it’s the general idea. 

Some products lean into low cost being a huge incentive to pick them — see our best bulk buy option — but price only goes so far. There is also the matter of dosage. Dosage will vary from product to product and the ideal dosage is going to depend pretty much entirely on the consumers needs, so it can be tough to compare. However, if two products have similar per serving doses at a similar price, but one has more servings, then that one will obviously score higher.

Third Party Testing

This is really just a matter of wanting clean quality supplements. Once one competitive option gets third party tested and can verify the purity of their product, it puts the onus pretty heavily on that product’s competitors to do the same. If one product is third party tested and another is not, there is a significant boost in confidence that the product you think you’re buying is the product you’re getting.

Some products test for purity, but do so in house. That is a reasonable way to test, it is unlikely you’ll sell much product if your testing is flawed, but it doesn’t score as well as if a third party tested the product. There is just the inherent bias to test your own product favorably that we have to weigh third party testing much more highly.

Form and Ingredients

This is subjective to the consumer, but the variances that come along with a powder versus a capsule are going to be obviously notable. A primary example of this is if a product is a capsule, is it made with something that will exclude vegetarians? On the flip side, if the product is a powder, how well does it mix? Is it flavored? Does it have any particular odor?

There are a lot of minute intricacies to sift through here and a big one is any added ingredients for the sake of easier manufacturing or to maintain form. An example is any additional preservatives or any added ingredients to create a capsule.

What Are the Benefits of Citrulline?

Citrulline is an amino acid that appears to increase plasma levels of arginine and ornithine, improving nitric oxide metabolism. (1)(2)(3Nitric oxide seems to play a big role in relaxing blood vessels, which has implications for circulatory health and blood flow, and some studies have even linked it to improved erection hardness, making citrulline a somewhat popular supplement for erectile dysfunction. (4)(5)

For athletes, an increase in nitric oxide production might improve both anaerobic training (like sprinting) and aerobic (endurance-based) workouts, in addition to potentially reducing the amount of oxygen needed for exertion. (6)(7)(8)(9)(10) Citrulline itself has been seen in a few studies to improve power output and time to fatigue in cyclists and tennis players. (11)(12)

As for dosing, research in the International Journal of Cardiology and the European Journal of Applied Physiology found that a dose of 5 or so grams of citrulline may increase nitric oxide production and blood flow. (13)(14)

Citrulline vs. Citrulline Malate

Citrulline is the pure amino acid, while citrulline malate is an organic compound that occurs naturally in many fruits. It’s citrulline combined with malic acid, which contributes to the sour taste of fruits — it’s abundant in apples and is often used as a flavoring in supplements. While citrulline does have links with improved performance, citrulline malate may also help to provide more energy for high intensity exercise because of its potential role in converting food into usable energy because of its role in the Krebs cycle. 

That’s the theory, anyway. Evidence is a little mixed; there is evidence, like a study published in 2010, that found citrulline malate to be useful at improving the number of repetitions in a training session and improve recovery, and another found it to postpone exercise fatigue in handball players. (15)(16) Other studies have found no effect on performance or muscle soreness. (17)(18)

sprinting

At this time, we don’t have good research comparing the two supplements against one another and the additional benefits of adding malate aren’t concrete, but it’s a promising supplement nonetheless.

When Should I Take Citrulline?

Citrulline is a common pre-workout ingredient for a reason. You’ll likely receive the most benefit by taking your citrulline supplement about 30 minutes before your workout. 

It’s possible that loading citrulline over time may be an ideal way to accrue the potential benefits. Some users take a few grams every day for a week before expecting results. At the moment, there’s not quite enough evidence to suggest either acute or chronic dosing is superior.

Side effects aren’t widely reported from citrulline supplementation. A very small minority experience upset stomachs or heartburn, so it may be prudent to start with a small dosage and gradually increase over time. 

What to Consider Before Buying Citrulline?

Since citrulline can come in varying packages, it’s important to consider what ingredients you want with your citrulline (if any), the form of citrulline you prefer, and the price range you want to stick to. 

Ingredients

There are many citrulline supplements that contain just citrulline, but there are also some supplements that contain other nitric oxide-producing ingredients or pre-workout ingredients. In addition to that, citrulline can sometimes come in the form of citrulline malate, which includes malic acid in addition to the citrulline to potentially help with absorption and stamina. 

watermelons

Before deciding which supplement you’re going to buy, consider the ingredients you want along with your citrulline (if any) — this will help guide you to the proper pick on this list. 

Form

Citrulline can come in both powder and pill form. As far as powder goes, you can find both flavored and unflavored powders. If it’s powder you prefer, you’ll want to consider if you’ll be taking your citrulline in an already-flavored beverage or just plain water. If you’re just taking it in water, a flavored powder will probably be more appealing to you than an unflavored one. And if you’re drinking your citrulline in a flavored water or juice, unflavored will be your best bet. 

Capsules can be convenient for those who don’t want to have to mix a powder. But note, many capsule citrulline supplements require more than just a couple capsules per dose. Consider your daily schedule and personal preferences on pill-taking before deciding which form to go with. 

Price

Citrulline prices have a wide range due to the different ingredients you may find in addition to your citrulline. If you’re buying plain citrulline, you’re likely going to be spending much less than if you’re buying citrulline within a pre-workout supplement, which will contain far more ingredients. Before deciding you want the supplement with the most helpful ingredients in addition to your citrulline, set a price limit for yourself — citrulline alone may be the most budget-friendly option. 

Final Word

Citrulline is generally considered safe and today it’s one of the most popular ingredients in pre workouts. But always remember, especially if the intention is to take citrulline to improve circulatory health or erectile dysfunction, that it’s important to speak with a physician before starting a new supplement regimen.

After you’ve done your due diligence, you’ll want to consider the ingredients, the form you prefer, and your price range before hitting the market. After that, allow this list to guide you through the rest.

FAQs

Is citrulline expensive?

On its own, no. Citrulline is one of the most inexpensive supplements on the market by itself. However, if you buy citrulline within a pre-workout or a nitric oxide supplement, the price can increase significantly.

What’s the best kind of citrulline?

It really comes down to your personal preference, but citrulline malate is thought to absorb better than plain citrulline due to the inclusion of malic acid.

Can I take citrulline in my pre-workout?

Yes, citrulline is one of the most common pre-workout ingredients. If you don’t want to take a separate citrulline supplement, you can find many pre-workouts that contain solid doses of citrulline within the formula. 

References

  1. Flam BR, et al. Endothelial nitric oxide production is tightly coupled to the citrulline-NO cycle. Nitric Oxide. 2007 Nov-Dec;17(3-4):115-21.
  2. Sureda A, et al. Effects of L-citrulline oral supplementation on polymorphonuclear neutrophils oxidative burst and nitric oxide production after exercise. Free Radic Res. 2009 Sep;43(9):828-35.
  3. Nakata M, et al. Endocrinology: nitric oxide-mediated insulin secretion in response to citrulline in islet beta-cells. Pancreas. 2003 Oct;27(3):209-13.
  4. Moncada S, et al. The discovery of nitric oxide as the endogenous nitrovasodilator. Hypertension. 1988 Oct;12(4):365-72.
  5. Cormio L, et al. Oral L-citrulline supplementation improves erection hardness in men with mild erectile dysfunction. Urology. 2011 Jan;77(1):119-22.
  6. Wylie LJ, et al. Dietary nitrate supplementation improves team sport-specific intense intermittent exercise performance. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2013 Jul;113(7):1673-84.
  7. Lansley KE, et al. Dietary nitrate supplementation reduces the O2 cost of walking and running: a placebo-controlled study. J Appl Physiol (1985). 2011 Mar;110(3):591-600.
  8. Kelly J, et al. Effects of short-term dietary nitrate supplementation on blood pressure, O2 uptake kinetics, and muscle and cognitive function in older adults. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2013 Jan 15;304(2):R73-83.
  9. Murphy M, et al. Whole beetroot consumption acutely improves running performance. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2012 Apr;112(4):548-52.
  10. Lansley KE, Winyard PG, Fulford J, Vanhatalo A, Bailey SJ, Blackwell JR, DiMenna FJ, Gilchrist M, Benjamin N, Jones AM. Dietary nitrate supplementation reduces the O2 cost of walking and running: a placebo-controlled study. J Appl Physiol (1985). 2011 Mar;110(3):591-600. doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.01070.2010. Epub 2010 Nov 11. PMID: 21071588.
  11. Suzuki, T. et al. (2016) Oral L-citrulline supplementation enhances cycling time trial performance in healthy trained men: Double-blind randomized placebo-controlled 2-way crossover study. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2016 Feb 19;13:6.
  12. Glenn, JM. et al. (2016) Acute citrulline-malate supplementation improves maximal strength and anaerobic power in female, masters athletes tennis players. Eur J Sport Sci. 2016 Nov;16(8):1095-103.
  13. Sureda A, et al. L-citrulline-malate influence over branched chain amino acid utilization during exercise. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2010 Sep;110(2):341-51.
  14. Ochiai M, et al. Short-term effects of L-citrulline supplementation on arterial stiffness in middle-aged men. Int J Cardiol. 2012 Mar 8;155(2):257-61.
  15. Pérez-Guisado J, et al. Citrulline malate enhances athletic anaerobic performance and relieves muscle soreness. J Strength Cond Res. 2010 May;24(5):1215-22.
  16. Kiyici F, et al. The Effect of Citrulline/Malate on Blood Lactate Levels in Intensive Exercise. Biochem Genet. 2017 Dec;55(5-6):387-394.
  17. Chappell AJ, et al. Citrulline malate supplementation does not improve German Volume Training performance or reduce muscle soreness in moderately trained males and females. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2018 Aug 10;15(1):42.
  18. da Silva DK, et al. Citrulline Malate Does Not Improve Muscle Recovery after Resistance Exercise in Untrained Young Adult Men. Nutrients. 2017 Oct 18;9(10).