Before we reveal the secrets to losing cellulite, lets remind ourselves of what cellulite actually is. We often call it “orange peel” skin due its appearance, but obviously there are no oranges hidden away under the skin! Cellulite is a relatively common condition, affecting both men and women, which usually starts to appear after puberty. Cellulite is when the skin of the lower limbs, abdomen, and pelvic region becomes dimpled. For most people this only becomes a problem when it is time to don the beach bikini in the summer.
One myth of cellulite is that it is caused by being overweight. However, this simply is not true. Levels of body fat do not affect the formation of cellulite. However it is though that diet and nutrition may play a role in the formation of cellulite.
To date there is no proven treatment for cellulite, however, some studies have indicated that improvements can be made with a healthy diet and regular exercise. Some creams have been tested but although results look promising they have not led to a commercially available solution (see references).
Lifestyle, Diet and the Formation of Cellulite
Both lifestyle, i.e. exercise, or lack of, and diet, have been shown to be responsible in part to the formation of cellulite. Smoking, lack of exercise, eating fatty and starchy foods, and sitting or standing in a single position for long periods, have all been reported as causing an increase in cellulite. Also stress causes an increase in the catecholamine hormones, which can cause cellulite.
“Regular exercise and an appropriate diet can help control weight and thereby the appearance of cellulite. Like the supplement industry, the food industry has extensive research programmes investigating the effects of CLA, diglycerides, medium chain triglycerides, green tea, caffeine, capsaicin and calcium on weight control. These approaches may also be useful for the treatment of cellulite. It is quite possible, however, that synergies between both oral and topical routes may be the best intervention to ameliorate the signs and symptoms of cellulite.” (Rawlings, 2006)
Although numerous therapies have been tried, there are no published reports in the scientific literature showing that any of these therapies work. So if you see an advert for a therapy to remove cellulite, be very careful, as it could be another of those internet health cons. So far,the most beneficial therapy found is simply to control lifestyle factors, i.e. exercise more and eat a healthier diet. Controlling stress and anxiety are considerably beneficial, but healthy eating and keeping active seem to have the greatest impact.
How Does The Cellulite Diet Work?
The cellulite diet concentrates on eating foods which have been found to improve skin health, while also avoiding those that are bad for our skin cells. This healthy eating approach seems to have the greatest chance of reducing cellulite.
The cellulite diet focuses on these key principals:
- Lecithin – Lecithin is an important part of skin membranes, and consuming plenty of this nutrients helps the skin membranes repair themselves, and remain stronger and more elastic, which helps to ward of the orange peel.
- Essential fats – Not all fat is bad, in fact, some is very good for us. Essential fats help to strengthen cell walls, and reduce fluid retention.
- Low in Salt – Salt is one of the major contributing factors to the development of cellulite. The reason is its impact on fluid retention. Just reducing salt intake by 33% (say from 9g to 6g per day) can cause the loss of about 3lbs of retained water. Much of this water is stored around the belly. So if you want to reduce your belly fat as well as your cellulite, reducing salt intake works wonders!
- Protein – Dr. Atkins will be smiling in his grave. Yes, protein is back on the menu. This diet requires that you eat a lot of protein, as protein is essential for maintaining healthy skin, and repairing the collagen and elastin in connective tissue. Strong connective tissue means cellulite is less likely to form.
The Cellulite Reduction Meal Plan
This meal plan contains all the healthiest ingredients to give you the greatest chance of reducing cellulite build up.
Breakfast – Chose from one of the following:
- Bowl of branflakes, a low-fat natural yoghurt and strawberries
- 2 slices of wholegrain toast with peanut butter, plus a slice of melon
- A boiled egg with 1 slice of wholegrain toast with a thin layer of low fat spread. Washed down with pomegranate juice.
- Breakfast Fruit Cocktail: 1 apple, 1 peach, a small banana, some raspberries and an orange (without the peel)
- Scrambled egg on wholegrain toast with grilled tomatoes plus an orange.
- Unsweetened muesli (such as Jordans Organic) with a pot of low fat natural yoghurt.
- Breakfast Fruit Salad: 1 apple, 1 kiwi fruit, 1/2 a mango, a slice of melon, mixed with a pot of natural yoghurt.
Lunch Options – Chose one a day:
- Tuna sandwich on wholemeal pitta bread, with low fat mayonnaise and salad (lettuce, tomato, cucumber). Plus raspberries and a pot of fat free yoghurt.
- Bowl of mixed bean soup with a wholegrain roll, a slice of turkey and green salad
- A small platter of sushi (approx. 250 calories) and a large fruit salad
- Lunch omelette, fried in sunflower oil, made with 2 eggs. mushrooms, grated reduced fat Cheddar cheese, and served with a healthy green salad and a slice of wholegrain toast.
- 4 oatcakes with low fat soft cheese and a mixed salad, plus an orange and a kiwi fruit.
- 1/2 pot of reduced fat houmous with vegetable crudites and a piece of wholemeal pitta bread.
- A medium sized baked potato with 100g of prawns mixed with low fay Thousand Island dressing and a baby spinach, rocket and tomato salad.
Dinner Options – Chose one a day:
- Vegetable Chilli – made with mixed vegetables (carrots, celery, potato), kidney beans, chill peppers, chick peas and lentils, with a can of chopped tomatoes. Plenty of pepper and spices, but go easy on the salt. Serve with brown rice and a healthy green salad.
- Chicken fajitas – made with skinless chicken breast, red and green peppers, a small onion, and fajita seasoning. Serve with flour tortilla, salad and reduced fat creme fraiche. Some fajita seasoning includes both salt and sugar, so we recommend that you make your own home made fajita seasoning with:
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon cumin
- Grilled lean port chop with new potatoes, in season vegetables, fat-free gravy. Fruit salad with reduced fat ice cream for dessert.
- Vegetable stir fry made with mixed vegetables, garlic, ginger, and reduce salt soy sauce (soy sauce contains a lot of salt, so ensure you only use reduced-salt varieties). Follow with an apple and low fat yoghurt.
- Grilled skinless chicken breasts with a medium baked potato, broccoli, cauliflower and carrots. Follow with strawberries and fat free yoghurt.
Drinks to Reduce Cellulite
- Caffeine leads to cellulite, so stop drinking tea and coffee. Either drink decaffeinated teas and coffees of just drink water.
- Drink more milk. Skimmed milk is low in fat and contains both calcium and protein which actually helps to burn fat.
- Water – Drink only water the rest of the time. So not get obsessed with drinking water, but drink about 8 glasses a day, as this helps to keep the skin moist and hydrated.
Foods That Cause Cellulite
Some foods have been identified by dieticians as candidate to cause cellulite. These foods should be avoided at all costs. Fortunately, none of these foods should be in a healthy diet anyway, so stick to healthy eating and you will be OK!
OK, not just Danish pastries, but also croissants, and other sweet breads and cakes with high fat content. Sugar is thought to interfere with the way our bodies process vitamin C, which is essential for maintain healthy collagen and elastin in the skin.
Excess Salt in Processed Meat
Processed meat is again, not good for our bodies in any quantity. Research shows that processed meat increases bowel cancer. Processed meats generally have high levels of salt, which cause fluid retention problems, making your skin look bloated and puffy, rather than smooth. Avoid excess salt in bacon, sausages, hot dogs, ham and canned meat.
Excess Salt in Feta Cheese
Feta cheese is also very high in salt. Few people realise when eating this cheese that it has such high levels of salt.
Caffeine Based drinks: Coffee and Cola Drinks
Cola drinks are especially bad for cellulite, as they contain both sugar and caffeine, so steer clear of the Cokes and Pepsi. Coffee is also high in caffeine, and adding sugar makes the problem worse. So ditch those Large Lattes with two sugars in the morning!
Party Snacks and Dips
The sort of food served at parties, i.e. sausages, sausage rolls, crisps, salted nuts and dips, are all very bad for the orange peel. Dips can be especially high in fat. Tarramasalata is once of the fattiest dips, with garlic dips and humous also high in fat. Stick to the carrots.
References and Research on Cellulite Reduction and Skin Health
- “Healthy Skin Matters” National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS). www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Kids/healthy_skin.asp
- “Effects of caffeine and siloxanetriol alginate caffeine, as anticellulite agents, on fatty tissue: histological evaluation” by Maria Valéria Robles Velasco, Clara Tsugmi Nakamura Tano MSc1, Gláucia Maria Machado-Santelli, Vladi Olga Consiglieri, Telma Mary Kaneko, André Rolim Baby. Published in Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, Volume 7, Issue 1, pages 23–29, March 2008. Abstract: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1473-2165.2008.00357.x/abstract.
- “A two-center, double-blinded, randomized trial testing the tolerability and efficacy of a novel therapeutic agent for cellulite reduction” by Jaggi Rao, Michael H Gold, Mitchel P Goldman. Published in Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, Volume 4, Issue 2, pages 93–102, June 2005. Abstract: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1473-2165.2005.40208.x/full
- “Benefit of a topical slimming cream in conjunction with dietary advice” by B. Escudier, C. Fanchon, E. Labrousse, M. Pellae. Published in International Journal of Cosmetic Science, Volume 33, Issue 4, pages 334–337, August 2011. Abstract: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1468-2494.2010.00630.x/abstract
- “Nutritional skin care: health effects of micronutrients and fatty acids” by Esther Boelsma, Henk FJ Hendriks and Len Roza. Published in American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 73, No. 5, 853-864, May 2001. Abstract: www.ajcn.org/content/73/5/853.short
- “Ingredients and safety of cellulite creams” by E.L. Sainio, T. Rantanen, L. Kanerva. Published in European Journal of Dermatology. Volume 10, Number 8, 596-603, December 2000.
- “Cellulite and its treatment” by A. V. Rawlings. Pub. in International Journal of Cosmetic Science, Volume 28, Issue 3, pages 175–190, June 2006. Full article: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1467-2494.2006.00318.x/full
- “Cellulite Removers” by Stephen Barrett, M.D. www.quackwatch.org/01QuackeryRelatedTopics/cellulite.html