January 18th 2015
How to get rid of cellulite: what really works
May 25th 2015 / 1 comment
From the exercises that really deliver to how to eat your way to more sculpted thighs, we asked the experts for their ultimate myth busting cellulite guide
The cellulite struggle is real. And contrary to what the recent onslaught of Photoshopped and airbrushed ‘beach body’ pictures on our billboards and trains suggest, it affects more women than we’re led to believe. More importantly though, it is perfectly normal.
So what is cellulite? “It’s basically due to fat under the skin poking out of its fibrous connective tissue ‘container,’ much like stuffing can poke out of a mattress,” she explains. “It’s compounded by skin thinning which affects the dermis. Men don’t get it because their ‘container’ holds the fat in more tightly. It is not due to obesity and it is not due to collections of toxins or fluid – it’s normal fat.”
If you’re finding that cellulite constantly throws a stubborn and frustrating spanner in your bikini body plans each year, we decided to ask the experts what really works. Sick and tired of hearing about supposed cellulite creams that rarely deliver and treatments whose long-term results are yet to be seen, let these myth busters and top tips act as your go-to guide for ensuring you’re wasting neither your time nor your money on products and services that are nothing more than passing fads.
The cellulite myth busters the pros want you to know
Myth 1: Miracle creams reduce cellulite
If you’re looking for long-term results, cellulite creams simply won’t deliver the goods. “Topical cosmetic creams unfortunately don’t penetrate into this deep tissue layer so any improvement they deliver will be simply due to moisturisation and improvement of skin appearance,” points out Dr Bunting.
Myth 2: Only overweight people get cellulite
“Even rail-thin models and professional athletes can — and do! — have cellulite, but thanks to the magic of Photoshop, you’d never see cottage cheese thighs in a glossy magazine,” explains nutritional therapist Emma Olliff.
Myth 3: Cardio exercise is the best form of exercise to reduce cellulite
When it comes to an effective workout plan, increasing the miles you run on the treadmill alone won’t produce the results you’re looking for. “Certainly this type of exercise will reduce body fat, which is an important factor, but even skinny girls get cellulite as it’s more to do with the connective tissue and lack of muscle tone,” explains personal trainer Christina Howells.
Myth 4: Cellulite only affects older women
Unfortunately to cellulite, you’re just another pair of thighs and youth often doesn’t prove to be a tough enough obstacle to get in its way. “While it’s true that age does cause the connective tissue fibres to weaken, other factors such as weight change, stress and smoking can also weaken connective tissues too.”
Myth 5: Losing weight = losing cellulite
“Weight loss may improve cellulite, but unfortunately not always,” explains Dr Bunting. “And if weight loss is extreme, there may be associated sagging of the skin so things may actually look worse.”
Myth 6: Liposuction will always work
The bottom line? It won’t. “Even more invasive treatments like liposuction will only improve the appearance of cellulite in a fraction of patients treated,” cautions Dr Bunting. We don’t know about you but if we’re going to go under the knife, we want results. Guaranteed.
So what actually works?
Christina Howells recommends the right exercises
Build firm rather than shaky foundations
Traditionally, reducing body fat has been always recommended for reducing cellulite but even if you lose some body fat, the remaining fat is still sitting on top of our muscles which provides a natural protective layer.
It’s our muscles that are important for providing a firm foundation, preventing fat displaying everywhere. Furthermore, fat is exceptionally soft and won’t do much for skin tone, whereas muscle tone helps to make our skin more taut.
Strength training and bodyweight training are essential for firmer and stronger muscles. You need to target all of your lower body muscles from every angle to give your legs and butt a more toned appearance.
I personally would recommend following a lower body strength training programme three times a week including exercises such as squats, deadlifts, lunge patterns, hip lifts and step ups - try the following exercises from Thatgirllondon.com for a start:
Position: Feet are a little wider than hip width apart, with toes slightly turned outwards. Your hands are clasped together in front of your chest.
Action: With a straight spine, sit your body downwards between your legs so your hips are lower than just below your knees. At the bottom, root down through the heels to push yourself back to the start position.
Hot tip: Keep the weight in the heels and the chest lifted.
Gliding lunge pattern
This is my personal favourite for working the entire leg musculature while incorporating balance, co-ordination and flexibility.
Position: Stand with feet together and arms by your side.
Action: 1) Step the left leg out to the side in a lunge position so the left knee bends at 90 degrees as you sit the hips backwards. The right leg remains straight with your heel firmly on the floor.
2) The left arm reaches up and gently back to open the chest while the right hand reaches towards the left shin.
3) Step the legs back together and then repeat the movement stepping out on a diagonal backwards angle following the same arm pattern.
Repeat 8-12 repetitions on each leg.
Hot tip: Ensure you don’t just reach the hand to the floor but rather bend deep into the lunging leg to activate the glute muscles while keeping the chest lifted.
Hip bridge with thread the needle
Position: Lie down on your back with your arms alongside the body. Left leg is bent at 90 degrees with the heel rested on a chair. Your right leg is in the air bent at a 90-degree angle.
Action: Dynamically lift the hips towards the sky contracting the left buttock so that your torso and pelvis are in a straight line.
Allow the right knee to drop open to thread the right foot under the left leg. As you do this there will be a natural tilt of the hips but be sure to keep this minimal.
Reverse the movement and lower the hips back down to the floor.
Repeat 8-12 repetitions on each side.
Hot tip: You will be working the bridging side strongly so I want you to think about pushing through the heel when you thread the other leg through to engage the bum, (it’s subtle and more about the thought of activating the glute).
Skin care savvy from Dr Sam Bunting
Some devices may improve the appearance of cellulite but these changes may well be temporary.
Endermologie works by mechanically kneading the affected area – treatment is typically done twice a week. It may be effective but it’s expensive and we don’t know if results are maintained over time.
Radiofrequency devices like Velashape aim to heat the fat and connective tissue ‘container’ surrounding the fat to smooth out dimples and reshape the tissue. Small studies show promise but again, we don’t know much about the longevity of the results.
What you should be doing
Overall, I think it’s often a fairly futile endeavour to try to get rid of cellulite – I recommend regular exercise, a healthy diet plus a generous dose of self-reassurance that you share this ‘problem’ with the vast majority of women, so keep concerns in perspective.
The right nutrition from Emma Olliff
Those who eat a high amount of fat, carbohydrates and salt but little fibre are at a greater risk of developing cellulite. By adding the right foods and drinks to your diet can help you to reduce unsightly cellulite.
Eating foods with more fat may sound counterproductive to crafting an impressive physique, but increasing your fat intake could help combat cellulite. Try increasing your intake of unsaturated fats. Foods high in polyunsaturated omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, such as oily fish, walnuts and sunflower oil, as well as monounsaturated fats from nuts, seeds and avocado may be particularly beneficial.
Part of the reason cellulite develops is due to a breakdown in the skin's connective tissue, known as collagen. Collagen is a type of protein, so high-protein foods in your diet can help to strengthen the collagen fibres and decrease cellulite. Try adding lean meats such as chicken, white fish, beans, Greek yogurt and cottage cheese to your diet to bump up your protein intake.
Foods that are high in vitamin C could be one of your best bets for fighting cellulite because it can help to strengthen your skin's connective tissue, which can reduce the appearance of cellulite. Increasing vitamin C intake means adding more vitamin C-rich fruits and vegetables such as citrus fruits, kiwis, broccoli, bell peppers and berries into your diet.
Drinking enough water is an easy way to improve the texture of your skin. It seems counterintuitive, but by drinking more fluid, your body will flush out toxins and keep your skin and tissues hydrated and healthy so that it looks and feels better.
Switch to natural salt
Switch from processed salt to a natural sea salt or Himalayan sea salt. These have minerals that aid in hydration and metabolism.
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