- What is Fenugreek and why is it thought to increase testosterone?
- What are the health benefits of Fenugreek?
- Are there any side effects of taking fenugreek?
- What are the myths and facts about Fenugreek capabilities?
- What are the scientific study results for Fenugreek and testosterone?
- What are effective ways to increase testosterone?
Fenugreek is a South Asian plant whose seeds and leaf extracts are regularly used within dietary supplements/medicinal products to help treat an array of conditions.
But herein lies the problem…
Whilst this natural extract is broadly advertised as being able to improve your bodily functions e.g. your libido, your energy, etc., there is very little research to substantiate these claims.
Take for example testosterone. Fenugreek is widely promoted as a testosterone booster; however, the evidence supporting this claim is limited.
When is Fenugreek for testosterone encouraged?
What little research that does exist suggests that the presence of furostanolic saponins (compounds) within Fenugreek can help with testosterone production. It is believed that this compound can help stimulate the creation of new testosterone, thus helping to raise declining testosterone levels.
So does Fenugreek increase testosterone?
Like we mentioned before, there is very little to support this assumption; however, we aim to find out the truth…
It is only in recent years that the ‘Fenugreek testosterone’ claim has really taken hold. Skip back a decade and you’d see that Fenugreek has got a much stronger reputation for offering the following health benefits:
- Improved bone density
- Enhanced sexual performance, drive and libido
- Higher energy levels
- Improved fertility
- Greater physical/sports performance
- Increased lean muscle mass
- Improved mental focus, concentration and memory
- Increased immunity
- Reduced blood sugar
- Lower cholesterol
- Relief from heartburn
Now, once again – each of these claims needs to be taken with a pinch of salt, because whilst preliminary research DOES suggest that Fenugreek can help; like the Fenugreek and testosterone boost, more studies need to be done to help back them up.
Fenugreek may be natural and extracted from seeds and leaves, but it has been known to trigger some side effects (when taken in excess dosages).
Fenugreek has also been linked to the following:
- Maple syrup type smell to urine and sweat (this is caused the compound sotolon passing through your body unchanged)
- Upset stomach
- Sensitive nipples (most common in women – as Fenugreek can increase lactation – it has also been known to happen to men too)
Most of these have a minimal chance of happening – if at all. However, should they occur, the advice is to either reduce your dose or stop taking Fenugreek supplements altogether.
Now, sadly this is not all you need to remember when considering Fenugreek. It should also not be taken if you suffer from any of the following:
- Low blood sugar levels – NEVER take alongside diabetes medication as it could prove harmful.
- Heart disease – it has been known to reduce potassium, so anyone already taking medication to lower their potassium levels or who has got an underlying heart problem should NOT take Fenugreek supplements.
- Allergies to chickpeas, peanuts and coriander – it may cause cross-reactivity.
- Iron deficiency – Fenugreek may lower iron absorption so should be used with caution if you have anemia.
- Pregnant or nursing.
And this is the big question: Can Fenugreek really help to elevate testosterone, or is this supposed ‘Fenugreek testosterone booster’ actually a fraud?
Below we have outlined all the facts, myths and theories surrounding Fenugreek’s capabilities:
1 – Can Fenugreek increase testosterone?
More myth than fact
There is no scientific evidence that proves – definitively – that Fenugreek boosts free or total testosterone levels.
Sure there is the odd study, but in most cases, they were done by Fenugreek manufacturers, who weren’t testing for testosterone (or looking for a long term boost), but based their theory on how participants felt.
The few that have been done externally (such as the one published in the International Journal of Exercise Science), revealed that Fenugreek had no impact on free or total testosterone levels.
2 – Does Fenugreek increase strength?
More myth than fact
Evidence suggests the possibility is slim.
In a 2011 study, where 47 participants were given a combo of Placebo and dextrose (a simple sugar), Creatine and dextrose or Fenugreek and Creatine (over an 8 week resistance training program); by the end of the study, those who had had Creatine with Fenugreek and Creatine with dextrose, both saw an increase in strength.
Now, whilst some might say that this is proof that Fenugreek works, what it actually shows is that Creatine can improve strength (a fact that is also widely known, proven and appreciated).
The presence of Fenugreek and sugar in both formulations made no difference, as participants saw an equal increase in strength.
3 – Can Fenugreek increase your libido?
More myth than fact
The main study which explores this idea was 1) paid for by a Fenugreek manufacturer and 2) only consisted of a paid questionnaire asking participants how they felt.
After 6 weeks, their sexual arousal score rose from 16.1 to 20.6.
Now, this study is not the only one to claim that Fenugreek can raise your libido. There are also a fair few anecdotal studies which suggest it. However, in all cases it is nowhere near the most effective at boosting your sexual drives. There are better options.
4 – Can Fenugreek help relieve arthritic pain?
Sadly, this is a complete myth and there are no studies to support it.
5 – Can Fenugreek improve blood sugar?
A 1990 study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition proved that Fenugreek can be used as a glucose disposal agent. During the study it was found to improve glucose levels making it beneficial to anyone with diabetes.
6 – Can Fenugreek increase lactation?
That’s right! In breastfeeding women, taking just 3,500mg (max.) of Fenugreek per day can increase lactation in as little as 24 hours.
Now, this is great news if you’re a new mum. But if you’re in the gym and wanting to gain bigger muscles, then this is the last side effect that you want to happen – especially if you’re a guy.
This is where the whole sensitive nipple side effect comes into play…
So, is Fenugreek a secret testosterone booster?
Whilst there is no disputing that this extract is a rich source of phytonutrients and saponins (which are good for the body); there is just not enough evidence to back up its testosterone claims.
This question is a double-edged sword, as there are an equal amount of studies claiming it does work compared to those which say it doesn’t.
1 – One study published in ‘Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise’ (in 2009) revealed that Fenugreek supplementation had no effect on the hormonal profile of participants – including their testosterone levels.
2 – A 2006 study published in ‘Contraception’ discovered that Fenugreek lowered circulating androgens, including testosterone. The result was reduced fertility in both gender groups.
There are a couple belonging to this group, which is where all the doubt and claims come from.
1 – A study in 2011 – published by ‘Phytotherapy’ – found that by supplementing Fenugreek extract with other minerals, participants were able to maintain normal testosterone levels.
2 – 60 male participants were involved in the 6-week trial and they were given either a placebo or a supplement containing Fenugreek and a mineral formulation. By the end, those given the combo of Fenugreek with minerals saw an increase in their libido, sexual arousal, and orgasms, as well as a positive change to their testosterone levels.
This suggests that with the right combination of Fenugreek (with minerals), it can help you to achieve and maintain healthy testosterone levels.
Published in 2010 by the ‘Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition’; during their study of 49 men, those who took a supplement containing Fenugreek (and paired it with resistance training for 8 weeks), saw an increase in testosterone, as well as reduced body fat and improved performance levels.
NOTE: Fenugreek was not the sole ingredient in this supplement, so the results cannot be 100% attributed to Fenugreek.
3 – A study in ‘the Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism’ (2010) explored the idea of whether Fenugreek affected strength, body composition and hormone levels in men (when taken alongside 4 days of resistance training per week). They were given either 500mg of Fenugreek capsules or a placebo. By the end of the 8 week study, those who had taken the Fenugreek capsules had experienced increased total testosterone and free testosterone levels, but not DHT. They also lost body fat.
What can we learn from these studies?
Simple. Given how much they contradict each other, what is really needed are more detailed and in-depth studies. Only then can we be certain of Fenugreek’s testosterone booster capabilities.
Increasing your testosterone levels doesn’t have to be achieved artificially or with the help of supplements. There are simpler, much more effective ways of giving it a boost:
Vitamin D and zinc are both essential for testosterone production, so it makes sense that adding these to your diet can help to replenish your testosterone supplies.
Take the following foods. Each is rich in Vitamin D and/or zinc:
- Tuna – this protein-rich food is also high in Vitamin D (you can also try salmon and sardines if you’re not a fan of tuna).
- Low-fat milk – strong in Vitamin D, it is also a good source of protein and calcium.
- Egg yolks – Vitamin D
- Fortified cereals – these are usually fortified in Vitamin D and other nutrients that are good for your heart.
- Oysters – these are a fantastic source for zinc.
- Shellfish – crab, and lobster are particularly for zinc. One 3oz serving of Alaskan King crab can give you 43% of your daily zinc requirement.
- Beef – beef liver is brilliant for Vitamin D, whilst ground beef and chuck roast contain zinc. NOTE: just be careful to eat lean cuts and don’t have it every day to prevent cholesterol issues.
- Beans – white, kidney and black beans all contain Vitamin D and zinc, making them the perfect addition to your diet.
Believe it or not, exercise itself can help to raise your testosterone levels.
- Sprint – 5-10 six second short sprints with a brief recovery time can help. Aim to do them 2-3 times a week.
- Lift – you can either do high reps with low weights or low reps with high weights. In either case, they can boost testosterone levels when paired with heavy exercises such as squats, deadlifts, bench presses or Olympic lifts (at 85-95% of your 1RM). These should be done 2-3 times a week.
- Rest strategically – studies suggest taking longer rest periods of 3 minutes between sets can help to build your testosterone levels.
- Practice forced reps – performing weight lifting exercises for as many reps as you can – and then using a spotter to assist you with completing several additional repetitions – is believed to generate more testosterone. For optimal results, you should do multi-joint, large motor movement exercises e.g. warm up with barbell squats and then with a partner, choose a weight and do 5-6 reps on your own, and then a further 3-4 reps as they spot you. NOTE: these don’t need to be done every workout.
- Don’t skip leg day – adding lower body training to your upper body training can significantly increase your testosterone levels.
- Branch out from cardio – long endurance sports such as cycling can, in fact, lower testosterone in the way weight lifting can increase it. For that reason, avoid doing long stints on the treadmill or intensive cardio.
Complex supplementation (Testogen)
One thing is clear about Fenugreek. On its own, it may not be able to give you the boost you crave, but when used as part of a complex supplementation it can make a difference.
Testogen has harnessed all the antioxidant and insulin-releasing properties of Fenugreek, and have combined it with other testosterone boosting ingredients to offer you a natural and safe way to elevate your strength, stamina and vitality, as well as your muscles.
For more information on Testogen, click here.
There is no denying that Fenugreek is surrounded by both fact and fictitious claims. On the one hand it has the potential to offer an array of health benefits; but on the other, due to its lack of scientific studies and testing, knowing exactly what it can and cannot do is difficult.
This is especially true of testosterone. Its testosterone boosting capabilities fall into both myth and fact due to the minimal amount of investigation that has been done.
However, despite all of this one thing IS clear…
When used as part of a complex formulation, Fenugreek CAN increase testosterone levels. It is just a matter of getting the right pairing.
Similarly, testosterone supplementation should not be done on its own. Combining products such as Testogen (which uses Fenugreek extracts as part of their formula) with regular exercise, sufficient sleep, the right foods (those rich in Vitamin D and zinc) and minimal stress; can ALL help you to take back control of your testosterone levels.
So if you’re looking to boost your testosterone, just remember – don’t use Fenugreek on its own. Instead, consider it as part of a healthy lifestyle and a complex formula.