What is Fenugreek?
Fenugreek is an herb which is found in the Mediterranean regions and is used as a treatment for many medical conditions in different parts of the world such as Europe and South Asia. The leaves and seeds are used as a spice, and seeds are known to contain different nutrients such as diosgenin (has estrogen like properties), niacin, vitamin C and potassium. Other active compounds include the amino acids L-tryptophan and lysine as well as some alkaloids and steroidal saponins.
Benefits of Fenugreek as a Testosterone Booster
Fenugreek is known to increase testosterone levels which help in building muscle through:
- Increased exercise performance
- Increased fat loss
- Increased muscle mass
- Increase in muscle glycogen after exercise
- Increased muscle strength
How Does It Work?
The testosterone which is present in your body is not available for muscle building because it normally exists in combination with a protein, which restricts its use for building muscle. Fenugreek helps in muscle building by increasing the production of testosterone in your body. There are many amino acids present in fenugreek which help in the maintenance, repair and synthesis of muscle tissue.
Some health benefits of fenugreek are as follows:
- Treats sore throat, bronchitis and asthma
- Improves digestion and treats digestive disorders like constipation and stomach upset
- Cures acid reflux
- Treats hormonal disorders
- Reduces menstrual pain
- Helps in inducing labor
- Treats reproductive disorders
- Increases libido
- Combats symptoms of PMS and menopause such as mood swings and hot flashes
- Cures skin problems such as boils, rashes and wounds
- May be effective for the treatment of diabetes
- May have cardiovascular benefits
- May reduce heartburn
- Helps with weight loss
- May serve as a treatment for gout
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A study (source) conducted on 46 resistance trained men studied the effect of fenugreek extract for increasing strength. A placebo or a 500mg fenugreek was given to the volunteers randomly. The subjects went on a resistance training program for 4 days a week for a period of 8 weeks. At the end of the study, it was concluded that 500mg of fenugreek significantly increased the upper and lower body strength. No side effects were observed during the study.
The effect of two enzymes – 5α reductase and aromatase, which are found in fenugreek was evaluated in a study. The effects were observed in 20 resistance trained men who either received a placebo or fenugreek extract. The study lasted for a period of two months in which the subjects endured resistance training for four days per week. The study reported increased testosterone levels, increased performance for weight-lifting areas of the body and reduced body fat in the men who received fenugreek extract.
Fenugreek is safe to consume in the amount found in foods. When taken as a medicine, following mild side effects may occur:
- Stomach upset
- Facial swelling
- Low blood sugar
- Allergic reactions in hypertensive people
- Wheezing and coughing
- Bloating and gas
- Nasal congestion
- Maple syrup odor in sweat and urine
A word of caution
For pregnant women, it is advised to avoid the use of fenugreek because it may cause early contractions and cause an unusual odor in the newborn. There is not much evidence to show the safety of fenugreek during breastfeeding so it’s better to stay away from fenugreek in these conditions.
Also, for diabetics, hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) can be a consequence of fenugreek intake. It is advised to monitor your blood sugar regularly and consult your doctor if you are a diabetic before starting on fenugreek as a supplement or medication.
Fenugreek has a variety of benefits – from serving as a spice for Mediterranean cuisines to increasing the libido and building muscle mass. Through research, it is shown that fenugreek when taken in doses of 500mg per day, can lead to reduced fat, increased exercise performance and more muscle mass. If you are planning to start on fenugreek supplement to build a toned and muscular body, consult your doctor first so as to avoid any complications which might occur otherwise. Also, make sure to take note of the side effects, allergies and contraindications for fenugreek before you augment this supplement to your diet for your resistance training and workout.