Over three million new cases of cellulite are diagnosed each year in the United States. The good news is, cellulite is self-diagnosable as well as self-treatable. Even better news, if you don't currently have cellulite, there are things you can do to help prevent it from forming. If you already have cellulite and want to get rid of it, you'll find this article extremely helpful.
What is cellulite?
Cellulite is a condition that causes your skin to look lumpy-some refer to it as a “cottage cheese” look that can be found on the butt, thighs, abdomen, and hip area. It gives the skin a dimpled appearance rather than a smooth, healthy, and tight look. The root cause of this skin rippling effect is due to fatty deposits that push up against the connective tissue, causing the skin to become distorted.
What causes cellulite?
There are a number of factors that contribute to the formation of cellulite. Some of these factors are a high amount of body fat, lack of exercise, poor nutrition, a slow metabolism, changes in hormones, pregnancy, dehydration, the overall thickness of your skin, and lastly gender (sorry ladies, you're more prone to it than men). Any of these factors can cause the lumpy look that so many women (and men) dread.
What can you do to prevent or reduce cellulite and cellulite formation?
As with most answers to health questions, a lot of it has to do with your physical activity levels and what your nutrition looks like. If you are sedentary and eat unhealthy foods regularly, the chances of you getting cellulite is high. The more body fat you are holding onto, the worse the condition will appear. You should focus on eating lean proteins, fruits and vegetables, as well as healthy fats. The condition can also be minimized when you combine resistance training with cardiovascular exercise to keep your weight and body fat in check and to minimize the formation of fatty deposits under the skin. Resistance training helps keep muscles tight and toned while cardio will help you burn calories and fat. The combination of a healthy diet and exercise is a MUST when trying to prevent and minimize cellulite.
Another key factor in preventing and reducing cellulite is making sure you are properly hydrated. It's something that seems so simple, yet many people still do not drink enough water throughout the day. It's advised that you carry around a water bottle with you wherever you go and sip it throughout the day. When it's empty, either grab another bottle or fill up the one you just finished. The average adult woman's body is made up of around 55% water. Water is extremely important in keeping the skin moist, elastic, and helps transport nutrients to skin cells.
*Disclaimer: before we continue, it should be noted that before you engage in any exercise or nutrition program, it is recommended that you consult with your doctor first to ensure you are healthy enough as well as to confirm whatever nutrition plan you are looking to follow will not cause any issues with any current medical conditions or allergies you might have.
What should I specifically eat during the day to help prevent and reduce cellulite?
To be honest, there's no magical food that prevents cellulite, it's more of a look at the totality of what you consume throughout the day. As mentioned above, lean proteins are a must when you're trying to build lean muscles. Healthy fats are necessary in order to maintain proper hormone levels in the body and help the brain function properly. Carbohydrates can be tricky. You want to always look for green leafy vegetables whenever possible. Whole grains can also be included in your diet as well. Fruits are a nice sweet carbohydrate source and can even have additional health benefits such as fiber from apples. Below are a few options for each macronutrient that you could consider.
- Protein: Lean meat or ground beef, chicken, turkey, pork, fish, eggs, beans, lentils, tofu
- Carbohydrates: Broccoli, green beans, asparagus, kale, sweet potatoes, yams, peas, carrots
- Fats: Avocado, seeds (pumpkin/sunflower), nuts (almonds/peanuts/walnuts), Greek yogurt, dairy, coconut
What exercises can I do to prevent or reduce cellulite at my trouble areas?
Let's start off with the easy part first-cardio. Find a type of cardio you enjoy and use it. Many people try to stick with a program that they don't enjoy and they end up quitting. If you enjoy the treadmill, use it. If you like running outside, go for it. Maybe the bike is your thing because it's easier on your joints? Ride it till the wheels fall off. Just find something you enjoy and stick with it. Start off slow if you're not use to cardio and strive for 10-15 minutes. Gradually work your way up until you can get in between 30-60 minutes.
If you aren't sure what exercises would specifically help you with your cellulite battle, here are a few to make sure you add to your workouts:
- Squats: When it comes to the king of them all, the squat reigns. Not only does the squat hit your entire leg, but it also activates your glutes as well. Start with your body weight if you have never done them before and then gradually add weight either on a machine or barbell to keep progressing as your strength improves.
- Hamstring Curl: The hamstring (back of the leg) is a problem area for many women who are battling cellulite. You want to target that area and use some isolation movements to pinpoint that muscle group specifically. There are many variations of this exercise, such as the lying leg curl, seated leg curl, and standing leg curl. Look to see which of these your gym or fitness center has and rep it out. Start out with a light weight and gradually add weight as you get stronger on the movement.
- Lunges: This movement is great for leg development and strength and can be done in different variations. Some women do them either with their bodyweight or holding dumbbells (dependent on your individual leg strength). They can either be completed in place by stepping forward or backwards (your choice) to complete the exercise. Lunges can also be done as a “walk” assuming you have enough space in your gym to safely complete them. Some women even do lunges using a smith machine that allows for a fixed plane of movement.
- Glute/Hip Bridge: If you've never done this movement, you can start without any weight and simply lay on the floor. Make sure your back is flat, your arms are at your sides, and that your knees are bent with your feet flat on the floor. Pushing through your glutes, raise your butt and back off the floor so that you are in a straight diagonal line. Maintain your upper back/shoulders and feet on the floor. Lower yourself back down to the floor in a controlled manner. As you get stronger, you can do this while having your shoulders on a bench and utilizing the smith machine or by having a barbell across your hips. This is a great movement for the glutes that will tighten things up and give you a nice shape to your physique.
Hopefully this article gave you a better understanding of what cellulite actually is, how to prevent it, and a few ways to minimize its effects if you are already struggling with it. The key to remember is that you aren't alone in this battle. Millions of others do as well. Utilize the concepts found in this article and you will be way ahead of the game.