Q & A: Cellulite Causes and Cures
Q: Help! I'm getting closer to my goal weight, but the cellulite on my butt and legs doesn't seem to be disappearing! Is there anything I can do to get rid of this awful-looking "cottage cheese"?
A: First of all, congratulations on getting ever closer to your "bikini body." It sounds like it won't be too long before you reach your goal physique!
Cellulite is often referred to as "cottage cheese" or "orange peel" mainly due to its appearance, which looks like dimples or ripples just under the skin. Often "dimples" are thought of as being cute... if only the same could be said of dreaded cellulite!
Predominantly women are affected by cellulite, although a small percentage of men are too. Cellulite is a problem encountered by many women—in fact, around 90% of women suffer from it, to some degree, on their thighs and buttocks. Even "picture-perfect" women you see in movies and magazines suffer from this unsightly "cottage cheese" effect, as you may have seen from popular lifestyle and gossip magazines like to take pleasure in displaying particularly unflattering photos of stars that are caught unaware.
There are basically three types of cellulite. Hard cellulite often occurs in the bodies of dancers, runners, or athletes, and this is harder to get rid of as it attaches directly to the muscle tissue. However, this cellulite is often not as visible as soft cellulite. Soft cellulite occurs in larger areas of the body and often "sags" from the body as it's not as readily attached to the muscle. Edemateus cellulite can be developed from lengthy times of poor circulation and/or fluid retention. This is normally found in the leg area of women.
The Cause of Cellulite?
Cellulite is a kind of fat tissue just below the surface of the skin. This layer of skin contains bands of connecting tissue that have many fat cells and is surrounded by a liquid that nourishes it and provides an effective waste system. The waste products should be removed, however, because when toxins are trapped in the skin, this connective tissue thickens and gives the dimpling effect of cellulite. This layer also thickens as we age, which can produce the rippling effect of cellulite too.
There is a difference between cellulite and fat, though, in that fat insulates the body and cushions the organs, nerves, and muscles while supplying your muscles with useable energy. Cellulite, on the other hand, provides no padding and only occurs in certain areas on the body, such as the thighs, buttocks, abdomen, and breasts.
Cellulite is not necessarily a factor of bodyweight. You don't have to be overweight to have cellulite. Though diet and lifestyle affect cellulite formation, a large part of cellulite is comprised of toxins and fat that build up in the body and can affect women of any size, weight, and body structure. This in combination with the micro tendons attaching your skin to your body produces the dimpling effect.
Usually, cellulite can be attributed to a combination of factors and isn't usually caused by just one. Below are the most common:
Does your mother or grandmother suffer from this condition?
Lack of exercise:
By following a strength training and cardiovascular program, you'll be able to lower your body fat as well as increase muscle tone, both of which can reduce the appearance of cellulite.
Poor eating habits (including the excess consumption of alcohol, caffeine, and spicy foods) can contribute to the formation of cellulite because the toxins they produce get trapped in the fatty tissue.
Body Fat Percentage:
even if you are considered “thin”, your body fat percentage can still be high due to a lack of muscle mass. By lowering your body fat, you stand a chance of having less-pronounced cellulite.
Insufficient water intake:
Water helps flush excess toxins from the body. Aim for at least 12 cups of water per day.
Birth control pill:
This is because the body's waste system can't get rid of the enormous flow of estrogen in the body.
You don't need me to tell you the evils of smoking, but perhaps you didn't know it can also contribute to cellulite formation. Smoking can weaken the skin due to the constriction of capillaries and damage the connective tissue that causes the dimpling effect of cellulite.
Stress can cause muscles to seize up with tension while also causing the connective tissue that covers that muscle to seize up. Tension also blocks the tissue, preventing proper waste elimination and purification.
Now you know how it's caused and what it is... But can you get rid of it?
Besides the act of liposuction practiced by a licensed and experienced medical doctor, the only surefire way of reducing the appearance of cellulite is through consistent exercise, a healthy diet, supplementation and plenty of water to flush out the toxins.
Don't just rely on long, "slow-and-go" types of cardiovascular exercise alone to get rid of the cellulite. You'll have to incorporate some strength training into your workouts too to increase the muscle tone and decrease body fat, ultimately altering your muscle to fat ratio. Many women want to reduce body fat but also firm up their problem areas—becoming leaner and firmer—weight-training will defiantly help to re-shape your body by adding nice, lean, toned muscle tissue to the places you want to firm up.
A program that targets the lower body may be ideal for you. For instance, you could do lower body strength training twice per week but incorporate different exercises on both days.
Great exercises for glutes and thighs include:
- Hamstring curls (on a machine or with a Swiss Ball)
- Step-ups onto a flat exercise bench
- Lunges—you can do a variety of lunges, such as walking lunges, stationary lunges, and split squats
- Squats (barbell or on a Smith Machine)
- Stiff-legged deadlifts (with dumbbells)
Aim for 12 to 15 reps on each exercise, and do three different exercises on each of your lower body days.
With regards to diet, losing weight won't eliminate all cellulite, so don't try to crash diet. This will cause your body to hold onto the fat and may even worsen the appearance of the cellulite. Aim for a healthy, low-fat lifestyle that incorporates plenty of protein, complex carbohydrates, and some essential fats. And be sure to limit "saturated" fats.
Do the creams, potions, and treatments work for reducing cellulite?
Alleged "anti-cellulite" products include loofah sponges; cactus fibers; special washcloths; horsehair mitts; creams and gels to "dissolve" cellulite; supplements containing vitamins, minerals, and/or herbs; bath liquids, massagers, rubberized pants; exercise books; brushes; rollers; body wraps; and toning lotions. Many salons offer treatment with electrical muscle stimulation, vibrating machines, inflatable hip-high pressurized boots, "hormone" or "enzyme" injections, heating pads, and massage. I won't go through all these (especially the rubberized pants!), but let's touch on some of the more popular "solutions."
Cellulite creams and gels form the bulk of all cellulite treatments.
Some of the newer "body lift" creams such as Christian Dior's Svelte Perfect and Nivea's Body Skin Firming Lotion are all over the women's magazines. In fact, though, these are merely temporary solutions at best that work by plumping up the skin, giving it a sleeker appearance.
Endermologie treatments can be carried out at most day spas.
This is the first FDA-approved non-surgical cellulite treatment. This French machine kneads and massages the skin to release cellulite-forming toxins and increase circulation. Sessions run about $100 each, and it usually takes 10 to 15 sessions to see results. After that, it's recommended you have monthly maintenance sessions. Again, it's a temporary effect that you'd have to carry on with to continue to see results.
Body wraps are another popular treatment in day spas.
These treatments claim to be able to reduce inches off the waist, hips, thighs, and other areas of the body. Generally these facilities apply a special cream or lotion and then tightly wrap your body—often you're subjected to a heated sauna in your "mummified" state! Wraps do work to reduce some inches off the body; however, it's just temporary water weight, which is fine for a special event or night out, but it definitely doesn't reduce body fat levels. Losing the fat can only be done through a combination of diet and exercise.
Herbal supplements available in health-food stores.
Supplements such as borage oil, grapeseed extract, and Ginkgo biloba are believed to improve circulation, stimulate fat metabolism, and reduce localized fat storage. These haven't been clinically proven to work on cellulite, though, and a clinical study carried out in November 1999 on a popular herbal cellulite remedy showed no effect on cellulite or body fat levels. (Lis Balchin, M., "Parallel Placebo Controlled Clinical Study of a Mixture of Herbs Sold as a Remedy for Cellulite," Phtyother Res 13.7 (1999 Nov) : 627-9.)
We believe you should focus on mobilizing and processing as much fat as possible with fat-loss supplements. Although not touted as cellulite-relieving supplements, the combination of LIPO-DREX and L-CARNITINE LS3 work as a one two combination to release stored fat and then subsequently turn it into useable energy. Adding this supplement combination to your exercise and nutrition program is a great way to boost your metabolism and the amount of fat you are actually burning.
Some of the above treatments may help smooth your skin and temporarily reduce the appearance of cellulite, but you'll get much better results by doing some of the strength training aimed at your particular trouble spots and taking another look at your nutrition to see if there's anything that can be eliminated, such as caffeine.
4 things you can do that will have the most impact on the appearance of the cellulite:
- Drink plenty of water to flush toxins out of your body
- Follow a strength training program, concentrating on lower body movements, such as squats, step-ups, and lunges
- Apply a self-tanner—this instantly brightens the skin and reduces the appearance of cellulite.
- Utilize the combination of LIPO-DREX and L-CARNITINE LS3 daily to improve your metabolism and processing of fat.
- Eat a clean diet high in fruits, vegetables and lean proteins, with moderate carbohydrate intake.
Finally, try not to stress too much, as, believe it or not, over 90% of all women in the world suffer from one form or another of cellulite—even those with bodies most of us would die for!