Glycogen is a critical source of energy during weight lifting and high-intensity exercise. Heavy exercise depletes muscle glycogen, which must be restored during recovery. The time period immediately after exercise is important because rates of glycogen synthesis are highest during the two-hour window after exercise. Methods that would speed the rate of glycogen synthesis during this period could have a favorable effect on performance during subsequent days of training. Up to now, few strategies have shown any promise in speeding glycogen synthesis after exercise above that achieved with a high-carbohydrate diet. A recent study examined the effects of a fenugreek extract seed supplement on glycogen synthesis after intense exercise in trained men. Fenugreek seeds contain a unique amino acid not found in most foods called 4-Hydroxyisoleucine, which has been shown to promote insulin secretion. After a glycogen-depleting bout of exercise, subjects received either glucose + fenugreek or glucose + placebo. Glycogen levels were determined immediately after exercise and 4 hours after exercise. Supplementation with fenugreek seeds led to a 63% higher rate of post-exercise glycogen synthesis than glucose alone. These results indicate that fenugreek can speed glycogen synthesis above that of carbohydrate alone. This has implications for athletes who train multiple times per day or every day, who need to restore their glycogen levels quickly after exercise.

Ruby BC, Gaskill SE, Slivka D, Harger SG. The addition of fenugreek extract (Trigonella foenum-graecum) to glucose feeding increases muscle glycogen resynthesis after exercise. Amino Acids. 28:71-76, 2005.