Citrulline has been proposed as an ergogenic aid, leading to an interest in watermelon given its high citrulline concentration. The aim of this study was to determine the effects of a single, pre-exercise dose of l-citrulline, watermelon juice, or a placebo on the total maximum number of repetitions completed over 5 sets, time to exhaustion, maximal oxygen consumption (VO2max), anaerobic threshold, and flow-mediated vasodilation. A randomised double-blind within-participants study design was used to examine these effects among 22 participants (n = 11 males). Supplementation included either a 7.5% sucrose drink containing 6 g of l-citrulline, 710 mL of watermelon juice (~1.0 g citrulline), or a 7.5% sucrose placebo drink. Supplementation was administered 1 or 2 h before exercise testing to investigate a timing effect. There was no significant effect between the three supplements for the total number of repetitions, time to exhaustion, VO2max, anaerobic threshold, or flow-mediated vasodilation. There was also no interaction observed relative to gender or supplement timing (P > 0.05). A single dose of l-citrulline or watermelon juice as a pre-exercise supplement appears to be ineffective in improving exercise performance; however, greater doses of l-citrulline have been shown to be safe and are currently left unexamined.
Keywords: amino acid; ergogenic aid; supplement.