The name can send chills down your spine and conjure negative emotions: insecurity, shame, and body-shyness. Well, the first
step to defeating the enemy is understanding it. “Know thyself, know thy enemy. A thousand battles, a thousand victories.” –
What is cellulite?
It’s simply the clumpy, dimpled skin that mainly sits on the butt, hips, and thighs, but can appear anywhere on the body since part of the cause is subcutaneous fat, or “directly under the skin” fat.
It’s mostly agreed upon that there are 4 grades of cellulite.
Grade 1: Is not actually visible from the naked eye’s perspective but only on a microscopic level.
Grade 2: Requires the skin to be very light or pale and have decreased elasticity (we’ll get to this later).
Grade 3: Cellulite is visible while standing, but disappears while standing.
Grade 4: This type of cellulite is always visible regardless of body position.
Here’s how cellulite is actually caused: Connective tissue or collagen is connected to the skin and muscle with the fat cells in between. When the fat starts to stack up too high the connective tissue pulls down in response which causes the dimpling.
Women have a different arrangement of collagen fibers. They typically run vertically (think fence posts) while mens is more meshed (like a fishing net). The vertical fibers basically have a problem “keeping everything tight and together” while it’s easier for the meshed structure.
Also, women have 9 times more alpha-adrenergic receptors than men and they are especially dense in the lower body. Men have much more beta receptors.
These alpha receptors bind to your two primary fat burning hormones epinephrine and norepinephrine and fat is not burned at a high rate. When they bind to the beta receptors fat is broken free from the cells and used for energy, lucky men.
Generally speaking, that is why it’s so hard for a lot of women to lose fat in the legs, hips, and butt and easier to lose it from the arms, stomach, and bust. It’s commonly accepted that cellulite affects roughly 90% of the female population and about 10% of the male population. There is a nuanced explanation for this, but it starts with the fact that subcutaneous fat is more prevalent in women (especially in the lower half of the body).
Cellulite by nature is oxygen and bloodflow starved. Contrast this with bellyfat. It is oxygen rich and therefore receives more attention and comes off quicker especially for women.
Let’s Get Rid of It!
The tighter and more well developed your lean muscle is underneath the skin, so goes the connective tissue (keeps everything “together”). This is how some women actually develop MORE cellulite after losing weight using crash dieting or marathon cardio sessions as their main weapons of choice.
Takeaway: Resistance training CAN decrease the appearance of cellulite!
A low carbohydrate diet is also absolutely essential in decreasing cellulite! When insulin is high, it promotes usage of the alpha receptors that slow down fat release. A high carbohydrate diet will promote chronically high insulin levels and keep the cellulite around.
The collagen fibers mentioned earlier also need to be straightened and reshaped. You can do this through deep tissue massage, foam rolling, vibration, and light therapy.
If you really want to take it up a notch, try supplementing with arginine to increase bloodflow, Green tea to subdue the alpha receptors, and forskolin to enhance fat breakdown.
Bye Bye Cellulite!
Just keep in mind that genetics also play a role, but there’s nothing you can do about that. Your job is to kick cellulite’s butt to the best of your ability 🙂