The Benefits of Fenugreek Supplementation During Resistance Training

by Benjamin Bunting BA(Hons) PGCert

Ben Bunting BA(Hons) PGCert Sports and Exercise Nutrition Level 2 Strength and Conditioning CoachWritten by Ben Bunting: BA, PGCert. (Sport & Exercise Nutrition) // British Army Physical Training Instructor // S&C Coach.

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Studies have demonstrated that taking an extract derived from fenugreek (FGE) seeds increases muscle creatine uptake and anabolic hormone levels during structured resistance training programs.

One trial revealed a fenugreek glycoside supplement significantly outshone placebo over an eight-week period without adverse side effects.

Improves Muscle Strength

Fenugreek supplementation significantly increased upper and lower body strength compared to placebo in a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study conducted over eight weeks by providing participants either 500mg of Fenugreek botanical extract (or its placebo equivalent) daily or 300mg soluble fiber per day over this time frame.

Participants trained using structured resistance training programmes while receiving these treatments; those in the Fenugreek group experienced greater increases in one rep maximum bench press and leg press strength as well as increases total body lean mass while decrease in body fat over this timeframe.

Results of this study indicate that taking commercially available fenugreek seed extract could significantly enhance muscle strength, power output, and hormonal profile for male resistance trainers.

It should be noted that this particular trial excluded individuals below certain fitness stratum and had many limitations including being restricted to lab environment during supplementation and testing periods and not accounting for sleep and dietary intake outside of three days preceding pre and post tests.

Fenugreek can not only strengthen muscles, but may also promote the resynthesis of depleted glycogen stores following exercise to optimize performance and recovery times. Researchers of this trial found that fenugreek  significantly enhanced post-exercise glycogen resynthesis for its subjects.

Results of a clinical trial published in the Journal of International Society of Sports Nutrition and Physical Activity demonstrate that creatine combined with fenugreek is more effective than creatine alone for increasing one repetition max bench press, one repetition max leg press, and total body strength.

This was due to improved abilities of fenugreek to transport creatine directly into muscles as well as activate creatine phosphate decarboxylase activation enhancing muscular hypertrophy.

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Reduces Post-Workout Inflammation and Recovery

Fenugreek contains compounds known as isothiocyanates that have been shown to suppress the inflammatory response caused by exercise, helping prevent muscle tissue degradation and speed recovery from exercise-related damage.

Fenugreek also boasts high concentrations of amino acids and carbohydrates which may reduce post-workout soreness while increasing protein synthesis after intense workouts.

One study discovered that supplementing with 500 mg per day of a proprietary fenugreek extract with cinnamon and curcumin had a profoundly positive impact on upper (1 RM bench press), lower body strength, body composition and hormonal responses in resistance trained male participants over an eight-week period without experiencing clinical side effects.

An additional human study concluded that supplementation of glycoside-based, standard FGE for 14 days before resistance training bout resulted in significant increases to both bench press 1-RM and Wingate peak power in a double-blind, randomized, placebo controlled trial.

Furthermore, taking FGE helped decrease time required to elicit first set repetitions in squat exercise as well as total number of reps completed for both bench press and squat exercises.

Authors also noted that no difference was noted in circulating insulin or blood glucose concentrations between the fenugreek-treated groups and control groups, an important finding for athletes as it suggests taking fenugreek together with other supplements without adversely impacting insulin or blood sugar levels.

Researchers discovered that combining fenugreek, cinnamon and turmeric could be effective at mitigating inflammation response to eccentric exercise in resistance trained men. Fenugreek glycosides and compounds found within these spices seem to modulate both IL-6 and NF-kappaB signaling pathways thereby decreasing inflammation signals.

While these studies produced encouraging results, it should be remembered that they involved healthy non-athletes confined to laboratory conditions for supplementation and testing periods.

Furthermore, participants were asked to follow one diet during pre and post testing periods; thus the results may not apply equally to individuals following different nutritional plans.

Still, these studies revealed the potential of fenugreek to improve anaerobic strength and performance among humans - justifying further investigation in this area.

Stabilizes Arthritis Symptoms

Researchers believe taking fenugreek supplements could help manage arthritis symptoms. Although these studies are small and do not prove any definitive outcomes regarding how effectively or safely fenugreek may prevent or treat arthritis, results suggest it can improve muscle performance, reduce post-workout inflammation and delay fatigue during physical exercise sessions.

Studies have revealed that fenugreek seeds contain large quantities of natural anti-inflammatory agents such as isoflavones and alkaloids, along with 4-hydroxyisoclucine which may block inflammation pathways within the body - potentially making this an effective treatment option for arthritis and other forms of inflammation.

Researchers have also discovered that taking fenugreek seed extract can significantly decrease blood sugar levels among diabetics while increasing insulin sensitivity.

One study demonstrated this by showing Type-1 diabetics who took this extract saw decreased glucose and cholesterol levels while seeing improvements in their insulin resistance and glycemic control.

Fenugreek seeds contain diosgenin-containing methionine that acts as a potency anti-diabetic and anti-inflammatory agent, with studies finding its benefits include cell regeneration, reduced cholesterol and blood sugar levels, increasing milk production for nursing mothers, reduced appetite reduction and decrease inflammation in joints.

Fenugreek contains numerous antioxidants that may reduce symptoms and progression of Alzheimer's disease. Furthermore, recent mice research discovered that methionine can increase acetylcholinesterase activity in the brain to decrease dementia and depression symptoms.

Additional Benefits

Fenugreek contains soluble fiber that helps lower cholesterol and aid digestion, and demulcent properties to ease digestive issues like bloating, constipation and gas.

Studies have shown that supplementing with fenugreek significantly decreased heartburn symptoms caused by acid reflux (return flow of stomach contents backwards) among people with chronic heartburn. It can also serve as an appetite suppressant that will help limit caloric intake to promote weight loss.

Fenugreek contains natural compounds that regulate blood sugar, potentially helping prevent and slow the progression of existing diabetes. They have been found to improve insulin sensitivity in diabetic mice.

Fenugreek can also enhance muscle growth and decrease body fat by raising testosterone levels in men, increasing muscle protein synthesis, increasing basal metabolic rate, resulting in greater energy expenditure and leading to enhanced energy expenditure.

Conclusion

The turban squash-like seeds of the methionine-rich plant Methionella foenum graecum, or fenugreek, have been used as both a spice and medicinal herb for thousands of years. More recently, it has been shown to have many health benefits that include increasing strength and lowering blood sugar levels, especially in diabetics.

One clinical trial found that adding a commercially available fenugreek extract to a regular diet significantly increased upper and lower body strength during a structured resistance training program.

Another study found that a combination of creatine and fenugreek enhanced bench press and wingate peak power during resistance training, while improving submaximal endurance performance and hormone profiles in males without affecting hepatic cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

In addition to enhancing muscle strength, fenugreek can have anabolic effects on muscles by stimulating protein synthesis and decreasing catabolic activity (burning of proteins during workouts). 

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