Merely catching a glimpse of an orange-peel-like texture on our butt or thighs is enough to send many of us off on a search for how to lose cellulite.
That’s why there are so many pricey cellulite creams and treatments on the market, promising to reduce the appearance of the “cottage cheese” texture that can appear on thighs, the butt, arms, and the abs.
And even with the rise of these products, researchers have yet to discover an immediate cure for cellulite.
However, there are several natural techniques that will help you lose these dimples over time. Unlike creams, these techniques work on cellulite from the inside, where it originates.
Let’s take a look at why we get cellulite and how it forms to better understand how these methods work.
Why We Get Cellulite
While cellulite can plague everyone, females are more prone to developing the orange-peel like dimples that can appear on some parts of the body.
The most simple explanation of why cellulite forms is due to uneven fat distribution beneath the skin. The “how” of its formation is a little more complicated, but understanding how it forms is key to learning how to lose it (and why those expensive creams won’t cure it).
Imagine a down-filled pillow – it’s kind of lumpy and bumpy, right? We’re going to use that image to help understand how cellulite forms. Our skin is like the pillowcase, and fat is the feathers inside.
The thinner or weaker the covering – or the bigger the feathers – the more bumps there are.
So, in our bodies, fat cells – driven by estrogen – multiply and become enlarged, pushing up against our skin layer, causing unsightly dimples (1).
There are three main reasons men have less chance of developing cellulite: they produce less estrogen, they have less storage space underneath their skin, and the skin holding their fat between the layers is woven tighter (2).
Since women naturally produce more estrogen, they’re also susceptible to storing more fat. On top of this, estrogen can also break down collagen in the skin, creating weaker layers to hold the fat in. This in turn equals more cellulite.
Will Losing Weight Get Rid of Cellulite?
Losing weight definitely has its place in getting rid of cellulite for the simple fact that there’s less adipose (fat) tissue to deal with.
But weight loss isn’t a definite cure, as cellulite also involves the skin structure and placement of fat storage. The good news is that losing weight can make it easier to repair and correct these issues.
Now, lets get into the nitty-gritty of those cellulite-busting methods.
Your Diet Matters
Nutrition is one of the most important factors in losing cellulite for good. This is because good nutrition has a direct effect on our hormones, causing us to either burn fat or store it.
Specifically, we want to focus on limiting excess sugar and processed starches and grains, as these stimulate insulin, the fat-storage hormone.
This can be done by consuming only whole, fresh foods such as lean meats; healthy fats like avocados, olive oil, and nuts; fish, vegetables and fruits; and gluten-free starches and grains like quinoa.
It’s also important to avoid commercial dairy if you want to balance your hormones and lose cellulite. Studies have shown that commercial cow’s milk contains large amounts of estrogens and progesterone that interfere with our own hormones (4).
This is bad news, as we know estrogen is a major driver of collagen breakdown and fat storage. Luckily, milk alternatives are more prevalent than ever: almond, coconut, hazelnut, and even Brazil nut milks make great substitutes.
Exercise and Circulation
While there is no single exercise or group of exercises that will banish cellulite, the increased circulation you get from moving will do a number on those dimples.
Since fat tissue is surprisingly rich in blood vessels, circulation plays a large roll in influencing its storage and appearance. Poor circulation inhibits lymph drainage by decreasing blood flow to these vessels. This then slows collagen synthesis – making it easier for fat cells to push through the collagen layer.
Focus on moving every day and be sure to make weight training a large percentage of your activity.
Why? Weight training is the closest we can come to a cellulite-reducing exercise, because it is the only type of exercise that can strengthen the connective tissues of the body.
Hot Baths and Saunas
Heat has also been shown to increase circulation and break up fat tissue, with some having great success using infrared heat and radio frequency treatments (5).
Since many of us don’t have access to these technologies at home, taking hot 20- to 30-minute baths can help increase circulation to cellulite-prone areas (6).
Interestingly, scientists have started looking at herbs to help fight cellulite.
Two of the most promising are gotu kola and horse chestnut, due to their ability to improve circulation and support collagen (3).
Green tea has also been studied as a possible way to break down cellulite, as it contains epigallocatechin-3-gallate, or EGCG, and catechins, which have been shown to improve blood flow (7).
Can Stress Worsen Cellulite?
Believe it or not, our stress levels can have an impact on cellulite formation.
This is because cortisol, the hormone released during stress, encourages fat storage and controls fat distribution (3).
Also, a compound in licorice root called glycyrrhetinic acid has been shown to specifically fight fat storage induced by stress, possibly making licorice root an ideal supplement if you’re frequently stressed (3).
Foam Rolling and Body Brushing
Many people swear by using a foam roller to help smooth the appearance of cellulite. There may be some merit to this, as foam rolling has been shown to increase circulation by breaking down fibrous tissues and “knots” that may be obstructing blood flow (8).
Alongside foam rolling, dry body brushing also shows promise in breaking down fat deposits and increasing circulation. It also stimulates lymph (fluid) flow, which then gives your blood vessels more room to “breathe” (9).
Dry body brushing involves running a natural-bristled brush (you can find them in most health food stores) over your entire body, concentrating on cellulite-prone areas. Be sure to always brush toward your heart, as this stimulates proper lymph drainage.
Body brushing can be done every day before you shower, while foam rolling can be practiced several days a week.
Holistic Approach to Beating Cellulite
Treating cellulite clearly involves more than just applying creams or lotions.
Remember that several hormones come into play that dictate how fat is being stored in the body, so a holistic approach will always be superior than just using one of the methods listed here.
Luckily, most are easy to incorporate into your day-to-day routine, and also have a host of benefits outside of eliminating cellulite such as weight loss, better skin, and increased strength.
One of the greatest benefits of all, however, may be never again having to compare our thighs to cottage cheese.
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Yuri Elkaim is one of the world’s most trusted health and fitness experts. A former pro soccer player turned NYT bestselling author of The All-Day Energy Diet and The All-Day Fat Burning Diet, his clear, science-backed advice has transformed the lives of more than 500,000 men and women and he’s on a mission to help 100 million people by 2040. Read his inspiring story, “From Soccer to Bed to No Hair on My Head” that started it all.