The Effects of Consuming Amino Acids L-Arginine, L-Citrulline (and Their Combination) as a Beverage or Powder, on Athletic and Physical Performance: A Systematic Review

Siphamandla Nyawose, Rowena Naidoo, Nenad Naumovski, Andrew J. McKune

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Consumption of amino acids L-arginine (L-Arg) and L-citrulline (L-Cit) are purported to increase nitric oxide (NO) production and improve physical performance. Clinical trials have shown relatively more favorable outcomes than not after supplementing with L-Cit and combined L-Arg and L-Cit. However, in most studies, other active ingredients such as malate were included in the supplement. Therefore, the aim of this study was to determine the efficacy of consuming standalone L-Arg, L-Cit, and their combination (in the form of powder or beverage) on blood NO level and physical performance markers. A systematic review was undertaken following PRISMA 2020 guidelines (PROSPERO: CRD42021287530). Four electronic databases (PubMed, Ebscohost, Science Direct, and Google scholar) were used. An acute dose of 0.075 g/kg of L-Arg or 6 g L-Arg had no significant increase in NO biomarkers and physical performance markers (p > 0.05). Consumption of 2.4 to 6 g/day of L-Cit over 7 to 16 days significantly increased NO level and physical performance markers (p < 0.05). Combined L-Arg and L-Cit supplementation significantly increased circulating NO, improved performance, and reduced feelings of exertion (p < 0.05). Standalone L-Cit and combined L-Arg with L-Cit consumed over several days effectively increases circulating NO and improves physical performance and feelings of exertion in recreationally active and well-trained athletes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number48
Pages (from-to)1-19
Number of pages19
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2022

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