Cottage cheese, orange peel and hail damage. It doesn’t matter what you call it, cellulite still sucks.
It’s easy to jump on the bandwagon in search for the quick fixes to erase those lumps and bumps in hopes of smoother skin. But despite the huge amount of money spent on creams and lotions, lasers and lipo, we still can’t seem to get that stupid cellulite to disappear.
Is there a way to erase cellulite that actually works?
What is cellulite?
Cellulite is not actually a medical term. And it’s not totally just about your fat either.
Although women across the word have used this term for the past 60 (and more) years, and would consider it to be a serious issue, the medical profession doesn’t really agree.
Doctors would call cellulite a “normal condition,” especially since about 90% of women (and 10% of men) have it!
Seeing cellulite doesn’t necessarily mean you’re over fat. Because cellulite isn’t just about your fat.
The old ways of thinking used to be: you have too much cellulite because you have too much fat. So to lose your cellulite, you have to lose your fat.
But whether or not you have and see cellulite does depend on somewhat on how much fat you have. But it also depends on your skin, connective tissues and your hormones.
All 4 culprits can change how much cellulite you see.
CULPRIT #1: YOUR FAT
We know that fat plays a role in our cellulite.
And yes, it’s true, the more fat you have, the more likely you are to see cellulite. But it is possible to have high levels of fat and not see cellulite. Or to have low levels of fat and still see the lumpy bumps.
So what gives?
CULPRIT #2: YOUR SKIN
The outermost layer of your skin, the one you can see, is called the epidermis.
And right under that is another layer called the dermis. Now this dermis layer houses your sweat glands, hair follicles, blood vessels, nerve receptors and connective tissues.
And it plays a HUGE role in your cellulite.
As our fat cells grow and expand, they start to push into that dermis layer, and those lumps and bumps you see are the fat cells protruding.
Some people have dermis layers that are tight, thick and less elastic. And when fat cells press into it, it may give a tiny bit, but it doesn’t show much. On these people, cellulite is much harder to see.
But other people have very stretchy and elastic dermis layer. When the fat cells grow and press into the stretchy skin, the lumps and bumps start showing immediately!
So the stretchiness and thickness of your dermis is a culprit in how much cellulite you see.
But if the fat is pushing out, why do we get lumps and dips in our cellulite?
That’s where culprit number 3 comes in.
CELLULIATE CULPRITE #3: YOUR CONNECTIVE TISSUES
That dermis layer, the one that stretches and shows your fat cells, also houses your connective tissues. These tissues are important because they keep your top layer of skin connected to your muscles underneath.
And depending on your gender, your connective tissues look different.
So let’s start with women.
Women’s connective tissues look like columns. They are long skinny fibers that connect from the muslces below straight up to the skin. And our fat cells sit inside of these columns. Because of this column-like structure, fat cells can push right up at the top of that column, right into the dermis. And the outside of the columns, where the connective tissues are, those keep pulling the skin down toward the muscles.
So fat cells pushing up in the middle and connective tissues pulling down on the edges. Together, the pushing up and pulling down gives the textured lumps and dips that make the cottage cheese appearance.
Fortunately for men, their connective tissues are more like chain-link fences, full of crisscrosses rather than columns. And it’s much harder for those fat cells to push into the dermis when the crisscrossing tissues are in their path. So because of this structure, it’s less likely we see bumps and dips in men.
CELLULITE CULPRIT #4: YOUR HORMONES
But there’s one more culprit in the cellulite battle. Your hormones.
And sorry again women, but you’re gendered genetics make it more likely that you’ll just store more fat in general and in places that are easier to see.
All people, men and women, have two kinds of receptors that help us deal with fat: the alpha receptors that tell us to “store it” and the beta receptors that tell us to “burn it.”
Women have far more of the “store it” receptors than “burn it” ones, especially in the thigh and butt areas, and this is because of your higher amount of estrogen. It goes back to your biologic ability to create a tiny human – storing fat is important for their survival. But because of those “store it” receptors in your lower half, its more likely you get the cottage cheese thighs and a dimply backside.
But men on the other hand are less likely to store as much fat. They have about equal numbers of alpha and beta receptors, making it a little easier for them to burn fat so they just carry less in general.
SO WHAT DO WE DO ABOUT THIS CELLULITE?
There are hundreds of different products and procedures on the market to target that cellulite. To try and erase it once and for all. But do any of them actually work?
WHAT TREATMENTS DON’T WORK?
CREAMS AND LOTIONS: Sorry to say but you can’t trust the hoards of beauty product companies trying to sell you creams packed with botanicals, antioxidants or caffeine. Because there’s no empirical support that any of those work. Most creams or lotions aren’t strong enough to even penetrate the outermost layer of skin, meaning they aren’t targeting any of the issues beneath the skin. So don’t waste your money.
LIPOSUCTION: if you meet a doctor who tells you lipo is the best way to eliminate cellulite, run far, far away. There is no empirical evidence that lipo helps reduce cellulite in any way. Lipo may remove some of the fat cells, but since cellulite is a combination of fat, skin, tissue and hormones, it doesn’t address all of the issues. And it certainly doesn’t change the texture of your skin. So where fat cells can’t be removed, you’ll still have lumps and bumps.
LASERS: Laser therapy is done when a surgeon makes small incisions to the cellulite areas and attempts to melt the fat cells and break the connective tissues that are pulling down the skin into dimples. But these laser treatments actually cause more damage than provide relief. They damage the nerves and blood vessels in the dermis layer of your skin and that damage can actually cause the skin to die or change color permanently. But worse than that, the places of incision can actually cause more bumps to your skin from scarring, giving you more lumps and bumps than you went in with.
TANNING: Tanning is often touted as a quick fix to hide cellulite. Now, having a tan may act like an optical illusion and hide your bumps better. But sunlight and UV rays actually make cellulite worse. The rays break the collagen and elastin networks in your connective tissues and actually make them more stretchy, ultimately leading to more bumps. So instead of tanning, start wearing sunscreen to keep your skin and connective tissues tight.
MASSAGE: We used to think that cellulite came from dehydrated cells. That poor circulation or tight elastic compression was stopping the cells from getting fluid and nutrients and the lumps and bumps were spots without fluid. The cure for that was massages or rolling. To release the pressures and push fresh blood and fluids into the cells. But although people still recommend massages and rolling, there’s actually no scientific evidence that dehydrated cells cause cellulite. Massages or rolling can actually give you an immediate appearance of a fix, but it doesn’t actually change your cellulite. It’s like fluffing up a pillow before going to sleep. It looks better, but it only lasts a few minutes until it’s right back to it’s norm.
SO WHAT DOES WORK?
A healthy diet, weight training and balancing your hormones. And they all have to work together.
Nutrition is a key component toward fat loss. Controlling your carb and sugar intake can be instrumental in shrinking down the fat cells.
Remember those alpha and beta receptors? The ones that tell you store or burn fat? Well when you control your carb and sugar intake, you actually slow down those “store it” receptors, making it easier to burn fat.
Now just losing fat isn’t the only answer, but having smaller fat cells can mean less visible cellulite.
Now the other dietary fix is getting more Omega 3s – taking those daily fish oil pills. Fish oil helps with tons of health issues, but it’s also known to strengthen and tighten your dermis and connective tissues. And when those are tighter, they do a better job at keeping the protruding fat cells minimized.
Combined with your diet, weight training is the fastest way to shrink down those fat cells and make them less visible.
But weight training does more than just that. Weight training is actually one of the best ways to strengthen your connective tissues and keep them strong. Plus, in under-muscled women, who still have cellulite, building muscle in their lower half greatly reduced the visibility of cellulite. Who’s going to notice any cellulite when their too busy staring at your shredded legs?
For those who eat healthy and weight train but still have cellulite, this is the piece you’re missing. Balancing your hormones.
Cortisol is your stress hormone and it tells you to store more fat. By reducing your stress levels, you can decrease your general body fat which will help lessen the appearance of cellulite.
But for most women (or men) who are physically fit and still have those lumps and bumps, the biggest hormone issue is their estrogen. Their body produces too much estrogen and their receptor cells are quick to turn it into fat and store it right under the dermis in the legs and butt. Diet and exercise may help with controlling your estrogen, but you’ll likely need a little supplementation to really cut out the cellulite.
If you want to get serious about erasing that cellulite, then you have a hormone profile completed to see what hormones are out of whack and the best plan for controlling the fat storing ones.
But if you aren’t wanting to supplement to get rid of that cellulite, you can make some small changes in your diet and living space to reduce the amount of estrogen you expose yourself to. We create a download with the 100 most estrogen increasing sources – most of them might surprise you!
Like this article? Check out this one next: