Fenugreek was used by ancient Egyptians and is today taken as a supplement or added to recipes as a flavoring. Some people take fenugreek supplements in an effort to increase weight loss, but the evidence for this is still preliminary and conflicting. Check with your doctor before taking fenugreek in amounts higher than those typically found in foods, as this may not be safe for everyone.
Effect on Satiety and Appetite
A small study published in "Phytotherapy Research" in November 2009 found that obese people given 8 grams of fenugreek fiber as part of breakfast felt fuller when it came time for lunch. Although there was a trend toward these individuals eating fewer calories when given the fenugreek than when not given the fenugreek, the difference wasn't significant. This could be due to the small size of the study, which only involved 18 people, so further, larger studies may show a benefit for fenugreek fiber in controlling hunger and caloric intake.
Fenugreek and Weight
An animal study published in "Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry" in 2005 found that fenugreek seed extract reduced weight gain in mice fed a high-fat diet. It also helped limit increases in triglycerides. More research is necessary to verify whether fenugreek can help limit weight gain in people as well as animals.
Fenugreek and Fat Intake
A small study published in the "European Journal of Clinical Pharmacology" in May 2010 found that overweight people who took fenugreek seed extract for six weeks ate less fat than those who were given a placebo. In this preliminary study, however, this didn't lead to a significant difference in weight loss. Further larger and longer-term studies are needed to verify these effects and determine whether fenugreek can affect weight loss.
Fenugreek can give your urine a sweet smell similar to that in maple syrup urine disease, but this isn't harmful. It may also cause allergic reactions in certain people. Don't take fenugreek if you are pregnant or you have a hormone-sensitive cancer, a blood-clotting disorder or diabetes. Fenugreek can cause side effects including diarrhea, gas and bloating. It can interact with medications including blood thinners, the leukemia medication cyclophosphamide, diabetes medications, aspirin, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and monoamine oxidase inhibitors.
- Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center: Fenugreek
- National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Fenugreek
- Drugs.com: Fenugreek
- European Journal of Clinical Pharmacology: A Fenugreek Seed Extract Selectively Reduces Spontaneous Fat Intake in Overweight Subjects
- Bioscience, Biotechnology and Biochemistry: Effects of Fenugreek Seed Extract in Obese Mice Fed a High-Fat Diet
- Phytotherapy Research: Effect of Fenugreek Fiber on Satiety, Blood Glucose and Insulin Response and Energy Intake in Obese Subjects