Purpose: Oral L-citrulline (Cit) increases plasma L-arginine (Arg) concentration and the production of nitric oxide (NO). NO dilates blood vessels and potentially improves sports performance. The combination of oral Arg and Cit (Arg + Cit) immediately and synergistically increases plasma Arg and nitrite/nitrate (NOx) concentrations more than either Cit or Arg alone. This prompted us to assess the effects of oral Arg + Cit on 10-min cycling performance in a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled crossover trial.
Methods: Twenty-four male soccer players ingested either Cit + Arg or placebo (both 1.2 g/day each) for 6 days. On day 7, they ingested Cit + Arg 1 h before performing a 10-min full-power pedaling test on a bicycle ergometer. Plasma NOx and amino acid levels were measured before and after the test, as well as the participants' subjective perception of physical exertion.
Results: Power output was significantly greater with Cit + Arg than in the placebo group (242 ± 24 vs. 231 ± 21 W; p < 0.05). Plasma concentrations of post-exercise NOx (p < 0.05), Cit (p < 0.01) and Arg (p < 0.01) were significantly higher in the Cit + Arg than in the placebo group, whereas exercise upregulated plasma NOx concentrations in both groups (p < 0.05). Cit + Arg also gave improved post-exercise subjective perception of "leg muscle soreness" and "ease of pedaling" (both p < 0.05).
Conclusion: Seven days of oral Citrulline (1.2 g/d) and Arginine (1.2 g/d) ingestion improved 10-min cycling performance and the perception of physical exertion in male collegiate soccer players.
Keywords: Bicycle ergometry; Ergogenic; Pre-workout; Supplement; Vasodilator.