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How To Beat Cellulite

In this blog, I'm going to help you to:

• Understand the causes of cellulite

• Consider exercise and circulation to help prevent cellulite

• Consider hydration and diet to help prevent cellulite


The dimpled, orange peel effect of cellulite on the skin is a common occurrence. Even though it doesn’t pose any health risks, it can be a distressing, unwelcome addition to our bodies. To have a better chance of reducing or eliminating it we first need to understand what cellulite is, the causes and how it is formed.


Cellulite is related to the compression of connective tissues and develops in the hypodermis or subcutaneous fat layer. The fascial bands called ‘septae’ connect muscle to skin, are rigid and narrow and comprise of elastin and collagen. These can thicken due to structural alterations, pulling the skin downwards, causing the fatty tissues to push through the fascial bands.


The results of this are puckering of the skin and the dreaded appearance of cellulite. As we know, with age the body reduces the amount of elastin and oestrogen it produces. The blood supply to the tissues also diminishes, ultimately decreasing the amount

of collagen and strength present from within the connective tissue fibres.


Generally, cellulite is more prominent in women due to the arrangement of skin collagen in parallel rows, which allows fat to be easily compartmentalised. In comparison, male collagen is arranged in a dense x patterned web, which has less space available for cellulite to appear. Women are also more likely to store fat in areas such as the buttocks, thighs and abdomen where adipocytes are the most perceptible, due in part to the activity of alpha- and beta-adrenergic receptors. A study in the Journal of Obesity Research by Greenway et al stated that fat in that region is “difficult to mobilise due to increased alpha-2 adrenergic receptor activity induced by oestrogen.” These will constrict blood vessels and produce increased fat, whereas beta receptors serve to relax blood vessels, increase heart rate and break down fat. Unfortunately, females have a much higher ratio of alpha-adrenergic receptors in those areas. If we again compare this to the likelihood of a male accruing cellulite, we can see this is decreased further. In fact, they are genetically blessed due to the presence of testosterone, absence of oestrogen and a one-to-one alpha and beta receptor ratio that works to break down fat.


Therefore, as the causes and visibility of cellulite is due to a variety of factors, we should consider various ways to try and combat it. Aside from cosmetic and surgical interventions, we can focus on circulation, hydration, diet and exercise, which can ultimately contribute to

its reduction. However, it is important to understand that diet or exercise alone cannot fully eradicate the problem, as hormones primarily regulate metabolism and fat storage within the subcutaneous fat layer. Fat storage and metabolism of the fat situated beneath the subcutaneous layer can be influenced by genetics, diet, exercise and lifestyle. Therefore, we must include a multitude of elements into a plan of action for optimal results.


Exercise

Exercise cannot solely or completely remove cellulite, but it can help to increase muscle tone and ramp up fat burning, whilst increasing the blood circulation to subcutaneous adipose tissues. This in turn helps to reduce the fat storage hormones present and alter their distribution. So, how should this be done? Whilst any form of exercise will benefit to some extent, there are certain types that are superior. Both cardiovascular and resistance training should be included with the aim of increasing lipolysis, stimulating lymphatic flow and prioritising hypertrophy. High intensity training between 85-90% maximal heart rate (HR max) is the prime method to help achieve this successfully by elevating both the endocrine system and metabolic activity to a high degree.

Cardiovascular exercises that recruit the hamstrings and glutes should be prioritised through striding, climbing, running or cycling, preferably in the form of interval or HIIT training to evoke more intensive mechanical stimulus.


Although spot fat reduction cannot be achieved, the use of larger muscle groups, particularly in a compound manner, will help with toning and overall fat loss, prompting higher metabolic changes during exercise and increased excess post oxygen consumption(EPOC).


This is an example of a TABATA routine to enhance fat burning and mechanical stimulus. Remember to warm up and cool down sufficiently!

Other top types of cardiovascular exercise include:


• Interval running or hill sprints

• Interval swimming sprints

• Intensive sports that mimic interval training such as basketball, football, rugby or netball


Resistance training is also of great benefit, as the more muscle mass someone holds, the more effective the body needs to be to continue to oxygenate the muscles. This means even more fat burning, as well as increased muscle tone to help smooth the skin and diminish the appearance of cellulite. Priority should be given to exercises (particularly compound such as lunges, deadlifts and squats) that target the lower body 2-3 times per week as part of a full training plan.


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Circulation

Lymph and blood circulation is also of high importance, as lymph fluid transports the fats that contain energy and nutrients from the digestive system to the blood. The more efficient the circulation, the more nutrients can be conveyed, and bacteria removed from the cells. Blood nutrients also serve to promote collagen production, helping to strengthen and tighten the skin due to its enhanced nourishment, thus warding off or reducing the appearance of cellulite. In addition to exercise, there are numerous ways to boost circulation such as switching from hot to cold water in the shower and massage. For example, incorporating self-myofascial release into your relaxation or workout programme can be beneficial. Foam rolling stimulates both blood flow and lymphatic drainage by transporting fresh blood to the muscle that is under pressure. Cellulite may then be reduced as the fascia is manipulated and strengthened, helping to prevent the fat cells from surging through. Vibration therapy or exercises utilising vibration plates may benefit us in the same respect. Whilst it is not a targeted cure for the issue, it can help to accelerate and enhance the remodelling of collagen, as well as improving the skin’s appearance through the resulting removal of subcutaneous tissue fluids. This can be through vibration massage and through the programming of isotonic and isometric exercises using vibration plates.


Hydration

Unsurprisingly, skin cells require water to function and thrive. If water intake is inadequate, it can cause a toxic build-up from within the fat cells that become difficult for the body to metabolise. No longer will the skin have a plump, smooth, healthy appearance. Instead, dehydrated, weaker, thinner skin will occur, ultimately contributing to the showcasing of cellulite. Hydration is therefore key to the flushing of toxins and metabolising of fat. It also helps to enhance lymphatic flow and overall circulation, leading to plumper skin, thus masking the appearance of cellulite. Optimal water intake depends on a variety of considerations, including but not limited to age, gender, climate and activity levels. Ensuring fluids are replenished sufficiently is a must and it’s the key to radiant skin health. Intake can include all water-based beverages such as tea, coffee and coconut water, as well as water-based vegetables and fruits such as watermelon, berries, cucumber and celery.


Diet

Eating a healthy, balanced diet comes with a host of health benefits including a reduction in body fat and increased circulation which can help to reduce the appearance of cellulite. With this in mind, there are certain oils and extracts that have been beneficial, such as evening oil of primrose, Gotu Kola and grape seed. It should go without saying that sugary foods and drinks, salt, alcohol, starches, saturated fat and processed foods should be avoided as they cause fluid retention, inflammation and increased fat storage, all of which can enhance the appearance of cellulite. Instead, prioritise lean protein sources, vegetables and foods with a low glycaemic index to aid fat loss. Increasing fibre-rich foods is also a must, as fibre slows down the absorption of dietary sugar, helping to stabilise blood sugar levels and hormones, decrease free radical damage and reduce fat storage, whilst offering a plethora of antioxidant nutrients.


Consume more collagen

Collagen is a fibrous protein produced in the body through a combination of amino acids. It makes up a vast amount of the body’s connective tissues. As it acts like a supportive scaffold to give the skin its elasticity and strength, it makes sense that we would want to encourage its increase and replenishment, as factors such as age can cause its decline. To produce collagen, your body needs:

• Copper - found in organ meats, shellfish, spirulina, cocoa powder, shiitake mushrooms, cashews, sesame seeds, lentils and dark leafy vegetables

• Vitamin C - found in citrus fruits and bell peppers, strawberries, Brussels sprouts, blackcurrants, broccoli, Kakadu plums, acerola cherries, parsley and thyme, dark leafy vegetables, kiwis and lychees

• Proline - found in egg whites, dairy, cabbage, mushrooms, bone broth and asparagus • Glycine - found in pork skin, bone broth, chicken skin and gelatin as well as other protein-rich foods

• Zinc - found in beef, lamb, pork, shellfish, chickpeas, lentils, beans, milk, cheese, nuts and seeds

• Lysine - found in legumes, nuts and seeds

• Glutamine - found in protein-rich foods like bone broth, beef, chicken, fish, dairy products, eggs, vegetables like beans, beets, cabbage, spinach, carrots, parsley, vegetable juices and also in wheat, papaya, Brussels sprouts, celery, kale and fermented foods like miso.


Avocados are also a superfood when it comes to cellulite reduction due to their high level of Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs). They help keep the skin strong, soft and stretchy, whilst aiding in collagen production. Flaxseeds can also be seen in the same way, boosting skin health, balancing estrangement levels and increasing collagen production.


In conclusion, cellulite is a complex yet mostly cosmetic issue that affects a large proportion of the population. There is no single reason for its occurrence, and neither is there a single cure. Whilst increased adipogenicity will exacerbate the condition, fat loss alone will not prevent its appearance. The inclusion of massage can reduce oedema and increase collagen synthesis, alongside a suitable exercise regime and a healthy diet. Only then can we target and help to control cellulite, by working with numerous methods in synergy to prevent cellulite from worsening or from forming again in the future.


(References: Future Fit Training)


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