Increase in use of natural supplements by athletes for muscle building and performance enhancement has paved the way for discovery of newer and more effective alternatives. Many traditional medicines have been investigated for their performance enhancement benefits. One such supplement which is gaining momentum is the Fenugreek seeds. Fenugreek is not new to the traditional Indian household and has been a whole kitchen spice from time immemorial. Conventionally Fenugreek seeds are indicated for hormonal regulation and in females postpartum for the anabolic effects of increasing muscular strength and tone, making it a potential candidate for use in athletes.
Taking a cue from the traditional uses; various clinical studies have been conducted to evaluate the efficacy and safety of Fenugreek for performance enhancement and muscle strength improvement. A research study in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, reports 500 mg of Fenugreek causes a significant increase in upper and lower body muscle strength along with a reduction in body fat and improvement in total body composition.
Another study reports that Fenugreek extract enhances endurance capacity by the utilization of fatty acids as an energy source in male mice. The increased use of fatty acids instead of glycogen during exercise reduces the glycogen depletion rate. Glycogen depletion is linked to physical exhaustion, while slow utilization results in enhanced endurance capacity and exercise performance.
Fenugreek is reported to increase free testosterone levels in the body. This free testosterone is utilized by the muscle cells to enhance protein synthesis, thereby influencing muscle size, strength and energy.
Fenugreek is also a promising antioxidant. While oxidation is essential for the release of energy required for various activities of the body; too much oxidation causes damage to the body. Fenugreek is an effective antioxidant which reduces the damage caused due to excessive oxidation. Fenugreek is also in use as an anti-inflammatory and analgesic agent which combats swelling and pain.
Fenugreek is an apt supplement for athletes desirous of increasing muscle strength and endurance along with improvement in total body composition.