Fenugreek extract may increase strength and muscle mass, industry-backed study finds

By Will Chu

- Last updated on GMT

Fenugreek extract may increase strength and muscle mass

Related tags: fenugreek seed, Muscle, Testosterone

A fenugreek extract may prove effective for athletes wanting to enhance physical performance capabilities as researchers note increases in strength and muscle mass in response to its consumption.

Writing in Translational Sports Medicine​, the Gencor Pacific-backed study finds subjects taking 600 milligrams (mg) of the extract decreased body mass by 1.2kg, −1.4% in body fat and increased lean mass by 1.8% after eight weeks.

These subjects also noted an increase in serum testosterone concentration of 1.3 nanomols per millilitre (nmol/mL) during this period as the team cite the study’s results as ‘supportive of growing evidence that suggests Testofen (fenugreek extract) can be a useful instrument in the toolbox of sports competitors.’

Trigonella foenum-graceum​ (fenugreek) contains over 100 phytochemical constituents, including furostanol saponins and steroidal saponins.

The extract has been the subject of a number of studies that show efficacy in reducing menopausal symptoms, decreasing fasting blood glucose, HbA1c, insulin, total cholesterol, and triglycerides.

Gencor Pacific’s Testofen that is featured in the study, is an extract of fenugreek, standardised to a 50% matrix of saponin glycosides.

It has been the subject of previous research looking into its beneficial effects on male physiology, specifically sexual function and symptoms of androgen decline in older males.

Based on these studies, it is thought that the mechanism of action of Testofen may be its ability to increase the release of free testosterone from sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG).

Research methods

Made up from researchers at the Universities of Sydney, Queensland and New South Wales, Sydney, the team began enrolling 138 participants to the randomised, placebo controlled, double-blind study.

These participants were male, aged 25-47yrs and randomised to three equal groups: 600mg Testofen per day, 300mg Testofen per day or placebo.

Muscle strength and endurance, functional threshold power, body composition, and sex hormones were measured at baseline, weeks 4 and 8.

Participants completed a whole-body calisthenic programme three times a week with all groups improved their maximal leg press from baseline to eight weeks.

Along with decreases to body mass and fat and increases to lean mass and testosterone, the team also found a 600 mg/day dose contributed to positive effects in enhancing leg strength and aerobic capacity.

Compared with a placebo, 600 mg of Testofen per day for eight weeks significantly increased functional threshold power (FTP) by 7.6 watts, and amount lifted during a leg press (20.66 kg).

“This suggests a dose-response effect of Testofen with an increasing dose corresponding with positive effects in body composition and aerobic fitness,”​ the team writes.

“Sports competitors could supplement with a WADA approved herbal extract to increase lean mass, leg strength, and endurance capacity while also decreasing fat mass.

“It must be noted that this study was conducted with recreational athletes only where no control over diet was performed,”​ they add.

More studies needed

While testosterone concentration increased in the 600mg group, oestradiol remained unchanged, consistent with previous studies on Testofen at this dose.

The team points out that in the 300 mg and placebo groups, testosterone remain unchanged which is also consistent with other studies conducted in similar populations on resistance training alone, where changes in muscle mass and strength have been seen without changes in serum testosterone levels.

“Determination of localised changes in sex hormones and androgen receptor changes would have further improved this study, however, muscle biopsies were beyond the scope of this research.”

Source: Transl Sports Med

Published online ahead of print: doi.org/10.1002/tsm2.153

“Testofen (Fenugreek extract) increases strength and muscle mass compared to placebo in response to calisthenics. A randomized control trial.”

Authors: Rao AJ, Mallard AR, Grant R.

Related topics: Research, Sports nutrition, Botanicals

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