Any ingredient or food that promises to boost male testosterone levels; instantly captures our attention. Every once in a while we hear about a “super food” that promises to crack open the floodgates to unending T levels. Fenugreek is one such ingredient that has come to the fore with potential benefits for male T levels.
Although it has caught on quite a bit in the fitness and sexual health spheres; there are many questions that remain unanswered about its efficacy and safety.
Within this article, we will try and explore these facets including but not limited to benefits, dosage and side effects of taking Fenugreek as T boosting tool.
What Is Fenugreek?
The plant stands around 2–3 feet tall (60–90 cm). It has green leaves, small white flowers, and pods that contain small golden brown fenugreek seeds.
Fenugreek has been a key part of Chinese and alternative medicinal practices. From taking care of skin issues to tackling sexual health issues, it has been used by both genders.
More recently though, it has found its way to our spice shelf; it has actually become a common spice and is used as a thickening agent. Fenugreek seeds and powder are also used in many Indian and Asian recipes for their nutritional profile and slightly sweet, nutty taste profile.
Fenugreek Can Boost Male Testosterone – Is That True?
Testosterone is essentially a hormone that our body produces naturally through testicles for men and through the ovaries and adrenal glands for women. It is the key hormone that’s responsible for ushering boys into manhood through facilitating male growth and masculinity.
Testosterone production hits the peak during your adolescence and tends to fall steadily about 1% per year after we hit 30. There are four key major male physiological functions that heavily rely on adequate T levels:
- Sexual health & libido
- Muscle Gain
- Fat loss
- Athletic performance
So naturally, when anything hits the market that shows even the slightest possibility of increased T levels, we tend to pay attention and more often than not, our cash as well. Fenugreek has been known to have a positive impact on all of the 4 functions mentioned above.
Within this section, we will put these claims under the scientific microscope. We will try and determine whether Fenugreek is truly worth its salt by objectively examining the relevant research work.
Here’s what the research says:
In one study conducted in 20105, researchers provided 500 mg of fenugreek per day. In addition, the fenugreek supplementation was combined with an 8-week weight training routine. 30 young men were asked to perform 4 weight training sessions per week, with 15 of them receiving the supplement.
This is what they concluded; the non-supplement group experienced a slight decline in testosterone. Secondly, the researchers established an increase in testosterone levels in the fenugreek group. Lastly, the supplemented group also experienced a 2% reduction in body fat.
Here’s another study conducted in 20116 that analyzed how fenugreek supplementation affects changes in sexual function and libido. The study was conducted over a period of 6 weeks. 30 male subjects were given 600 mg of fenugreek daily. Most of the men reported increased physical strength and improved sexual function.
A 2011 study published8 in Phytotherapy Research studied the effects of fenugreek supplementation on male libido and testosterone levels. 60 men between the ages of 25 and 52 years with no history of erectile dysfunction were chosen.
They were supplemented with either a placebo or 600 milligrams of fenugreek extract per day for six weeks. The subjects were asked to self-evaluate. They reported that the fenugreek dietary supplement had a positive effect on their libidos. It was agreed that fenugreek extract had a significant influence on sexual arousal, energy, and stamina and helped participants maintain normal testosterone levels.
Here’s how it affects lean muscle mass and athletic performance in men. The Journal of Sports Science and Medicine published a study in 20117. The key goal was to study how the combination of creatine and fenugreek extract supplementation affected strength and body composition in men.
47 men who regularly performed resistance training were divided into two groups according to body weight. Each group was then given either 70 grams of a dextrose placebo, 5 grams of creatine and 70 grams of dextrose, or 3.5 grams of creatine and 900 milligrams of fenugreek extract.
In addition, they were put on a resistance training program that required them to train for 4 days a week for 8 weeks.
Body composition, muscular strength endurance and anaerobic capacity of participants were tested. The results showed that creatine/fenugreek group experienced significant increases in lean mass, bench press, and leg press strength.The researchers agreed that creatine combined with fenugreek extract supplementation had a significant impact on upper body strength and body composition as effectively as the combination of creatine with dextrose.
Here’s the Other Side of the Picture:
We have discussed so far how Fenugreek positively impacts T levels. It won’t be fair if we don’t consider the opposite end of the argument. There are a few studies which haven’t returned promising results in this regard.
A 2010 animal study9 conducted on rodents was not very conclusive. The results showed that although in rodents, the fenugreek extracts facilitated an increase in muscle growth, they failed to have any meaningful impact on circulating testosterone levels
A sponsored human study was conducted in 200910 to study fenugreek’s impact on male testosterone. It was observed that fenugreek supplementation did not increase either free or total testosterone levels. The study was conducted on 45 male subjects that were given fenugreek supplementation while resistance training.Another study using 600mg/day of fenugreek extract called “Testofen” on healthy male subjects, failed to show any increases in testosterone levels.
Fenugreek’s Other Key Health Benefits
Improved Blood Sugar Levels & Diabetes Control
There has been a lot of research on how to control blood sugar and diabetes. Quite a bit of it has been focused on “natural” ways. Fenugreek has shown promising signs to combat both types 1 and 2 Diabetes. It has also shown that it can greatly benefit even non-Diabetics; reducing blood sugar on average by about 10%.
The high fiber content in Fenugreek seeds has been attributed with these benefits and it has shown to boost our insulin sensitivity. Various animal studies have supported this as shown by this 1990 study1 conducted on mice. It concluded that Fenugreek indeed played a part in improved insulin sensitivity.
Improved Breastfeeding For Mothers
Pregnant women and new mothers have to pay a lot of attention to each component of their diet. They tend to stay away from exotic herbs or spices because of their potential adverse effects on their pregnancy. One of these negative impacts is restricted breast milk production and flow. Fenugreek has shown quite a bit of promise in sorting this out.
It stimulates healthy milk production because it seems to be rich in a compound named diosgenin. This was clearly evident in this 2011 study2 that concluded drinking Fenugreek herbal tea had a positive impact on lactation of new mothers. It is also important to note that Fenugreek is also quite rich in vitamins that beneficial to both the baby and the mother.
It Combats Eating Disorders
Another key Fenugreek benefit that most people may not be aware of is that it has been known to treat eating disorders. A 1993 study3 published in Pharmacology Biochemistry, and Behavior was conducted to study the effects of fenugreek seed extract on human eating behavior. The key objectives were to observe its impact on food consumption, motivation to eat and metabolic-endocrine changes.
The subjects were administered Fenugreek extract orally. The results showed that fenugreek extract brought about a marked increase in food intake and the motivation to eat. It has been shown that taking 250-300 of Fenugreek thrice a day can help treat anorexia. It must be noted that it may not be safe for children.
Improved Skin Health
Not surprisingly, every other “natural” product claims to beautify or give us a youthful, radiant skin of a 20-year old. Most of these herbs/products usually offer half-cooked cosmetic fixes without actually addressing the root causes. Fenugreek actually goes the whole nine yards.
Fenugreek’s secret weapon is mucilage, which is an extremely rare fiber type. It is essentially a sticky fiber that gels in the presence of water and forms a paste. So why is it better for your skin? To start off, mucilage is a very effective moisturizing agent, because it traps water in its matrix structure and facilitates improved hydration.Fenugreek seed paste is known to be a very effective defense against skin UV exposure. Its UV defense abilities come from its ability to curtail the amount of melanin in our skin. This 2010 study4 clearly shows that Fenugreek seed paste does indeed decrease melanin.
Smart Ways to Consume Fenugreek
There are several clever ways that you can use to include this super-seed in your daily diet. You may be tempted to try dry uncooked fenugreek seeds but be warned that your taste buds won’t be happy; dry and uncooked fenugreek seeds are quite bitter. Here’s what to do instead:
As a Midday Snack
It’s always tempting to reach out for a cookie to curb your midday hunger pangs. Not to mention that settling on a snack that’s both healthy and tasty is not easy. What you should do is soak a cup of fenugreek seeds in a bowl of water overnight. You can then chew on these wet, soaked seeds whenever you’re about reach for that chocolate chip cookie.
All-Purpose Seed Powder
Eating bland chicken breasts and white rice is not exactly everyone’s cup of tea. A tasty seasoning can go a long way in raising the taste profile of our foods. A fenugreek seed powder will be a good addition to your spice rack.
Roast a handful of fenugreek seeds in a pan until they release a nutty aroma. Then whiz up these seeds in a blender. They’re a bit tricky to crush so add a bit of water to speed up the process & that’s it! From smoothies to adding a bit of earthy flavor to curries; there are plenty of options to use this.
One of the easiest way to consume seed powder is to just buy a supplement in form of pills. The pill by itself contains a seed powder extract in the necessary dosage. I've tested fenugreek personally taking 2 pills 3 times a day and I believe it's the least time-consuming way if you really want to give it a try.
A daily dosage of 500-600mg is recommended.
Although there are several health benefits of fenugreek consumption like any ingredient or supplement, it is always a wise idea to review your recent medical history and consult with your doctor or nutritionist before taking it.However, we will acknowledge that there are studies that have shown that Fenugreek facilitates an increase in muscle strength and lean muscle mass. This means you can use it as a tool for improved athletic performance.
After examining the above scientific data, the conclusion really would depend on what’s your desired end goal. Purely from a testosterone boost perspective, it’s a mixed bag at best. Although there are studies that show fenugreek supplementation positively impacts male T levels but the opposite end of the argument is equally strong.
Also, it’s important to note that quite a few of the studies that showed its positive T impact, were in fact sponsored studies by supplement manufacturers. All in all, if your goal is specifically to boost T your levels then there are other options that are more effective.