Does Fenugreek Work for Weight Loss?


Originating in Central Asia, fenugreek is an herb belonging to the Fabaceae family.

It boasts a strong maple flavor and is a common ingredient in Indian cuisine.

For centuries, the herb has also been used in alternative medicine to treat various health conditions, such as diabetes, high cholesterol, and obesity.

More recently, fenugreek has been promoted as a weight loss tool, but little is known about whether research supports this use.

This article explains whether fenugreek aids weight loss, as well as how to use it.

Although research on whether fenugreek seeds facilitate weight loss is limited, several studies have linked fenugreek to weight loss through a few different mechanisms.

First, it appears that fenugreek may help you decrease your dietary fat and calorie intake.

One 14-day study in 12 healthy men found that taking 1.2 grams of fenugreek seed extract decreased their daily calorie intake by almost 12%.

While the proposed mechanism is unknown, the men also decreased their daily fat intake by 17% (1).

Secondly, fenugreek fiber has been shown to aid weight loss by promoting satiety.

A study of 18 healthy people with obesity showed that consuming 8 grams of fenugreek fiber with breakfast significantly increased satiety. Plus, participants ate less at their next meal (2).

Third, one study including 9 healthy women with overweight looked at fenugreek tea’s effect on appetite control.

Drinking fenugreek tea was shown to decrease appetite. That said, the study didn’t observe any difference in food intake after drinking the tea (3).

While the current research is promising, more robust human studies are needed to confirm fenugreek’s potential weight loss benefits.

Summary

Some studies suggest fenugreek can aid weight loss by suppressing appetite, increasing satiety, and decreasing calorie intake. Still, more research is needed.

Fenugreek comes in many forms, though the easiest way to use it is as a cooking spice.

Fenugreek seeds can be used whole or ground in spice blends or dry rubs, while fenugreek leaves can add flavor to curries, stews, and soups.

That said, most human studies suggest that the weight loss benefits of fenugreek are only associated with higher doses, such as those found in isolated fenugreek fiber or fenugreek extracts.

Fenugreek supplements can be found in pill or capsule form but also alongside other ingredients in various supplement blends.

It’s also available in powder form made from ground seeds of the fenugreek plant.

Furthermore, fenugreek is commonly consumed as herb-infused water in Ayurvedic medicine.

Fenugreek water, also known as methi water, is made by soaking 1–2 tablespoons of fenugreek seeds in water overnight.

Some choose to warm the fenugreek water before drinking it and sip it like tea. It’s often consumed first thing in the morning on an empty stomach.

Summary

Fenugreek is a versatile herb and can be used in cooking or supplement form. Some people also make fenugreek water by soaking the seeds in water overnight and sipping on it like tea.

When consumed in amounts commonly found in foods, fenugreek is “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS) by the Food and Drug Administration (4).

However, in higher doses, fenugreek may cause mild side effects, such as nausea, diarrhea, and other digestive symptoms (5).

In large doses, fenugreek may reduce blood sugar levels. Therefore, fenugreek should be used with caution if you’re taking diabetes medication or other supplements that lower your blood sugar levels (6).

High doses of fenugreek have also been associated with adverse effects on fertility and pregnancy. One study in mice linked high doses to decreased fertility and an increased risk of birth defects (7).

Given this research and due to the lack of human studies on the subject, fenugreek supplementation should be discouraged during pregnancy.

Due to safety concerns, be sure to talk with your healthcare provider before adding new supplements to your routine, including fenugreek supplements.

Summary

Fenugreek is generally recognized as safe in humans when consumed in amounts commonly found in food, but supplemental doses have been associated with digestive side effects. Animal studies also indicate potential risks during pregnancy.

Fenugreek has been used for centuries to treat various health conditions in alternative medicine.

Although human studies are limited, some studies suggest that fenugreek aids weight loss by suppressing appetite, increasing satiety, and decreasing dietary calorie intake.

That said, more research is needed to fully understand fenugreek’s role in weight management.



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