Cleopatra probably had cellulite. Marilyn Monroe was riddled with it, according to paparazzi pics. And some of the world’s top supermodels strutting down international runways? They sport this frustrating dimply appearance on their lower bodies, too.
Perhaps you have already realized that your thighs and butt and abdominals can get vandalized with this dimply, frustrating fat. Not fair!
Biggest bummer of all? There’s zero scientific evidence to back any of the cellulite miracle cures you’ve heard about, from creams to caffeine supplements. Some modern laser treatments show a temporary decrease in the appearance of cellulite after several sessions, but that’s as close as we’re coming to a quick fix, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Hormones, Obesity, and Your DNA Can Affect Cellulite Formation
Up to 90 percent of all women get cellulite — men not so much. Thank your hormones and family genetics for this one: As women enter menopause and start losing healthy amounts of the sex hormone estrogen, they also begin to lose supportive, connective tissue and receptors in blood vessels around the legs and torso — this contributes to decreased blood circulation in these areas.
Along with this decreased circulation, your body receives even less oxygen and nutrition to those areas. This leads to a decrease in collagen production. It’s a bit of a vicious cycle because when new fat cells are formed, they induce greater estrogen levels in the body and stimulate the whole process to begin again… and again.
Cellulite most definitely occurs when you gain weight — in women, it tends to be most noticeable in the areas where women are prone to gain the most weight (the stomach, thighs, and backside) — and when that body fat grows, it enlarges and pushes against the connective fibers under your skin. The pressure results in the dimpled look that you now recognize as cellulite… and yes, it can also develop on your belly, of all places.
While you may be hoping to turn that belly fat into muscle, that sort of alchemy just isn’t an option. “Fat and muscle are two distinct tissues and they behave differently,” says Michele Olson, Ph.D., professor of exercise science at Auburn University at Montgomery in Montgomery, Alabama.
“Muscle is made of amino acids and proteins. Fat is an energy source inside a cell that keeps us warm and can cushion and protect us,” she explains. When people say they want to “turn fat into muscle,” what they really mean is that they want to have nicely developed and sculpted muscles, and less fat all over.
Reduce the Appearance of Cellulite with Exercise
So, what is the tipping point? Why are certain women more affected by cellulite? Olson reasons that some women may automatically control and regulate their estrogen levels more so than other female counterparts, and part of that is due to genetics. Does your mom have cellulite? Do your sisters? If so, there’s a pretty good shot that you may have or develop cellulite at some point.
“Exercise will release stress [and produce less stress hormone], and help you to sleep better and look better,” says Olson. It can also inspire you to make healthier choices at mealtimes and complete your daily workouts.
Cellulite: take that and that!
How Your Diet Impacts Body Fat and Cellulite
You should maintain the healthiest, leanest diet you can, recommends experts at NIH. While there is no known cure to banish cellulite completely, an unhealthy diet and excess calories can contribute to the formation of even more body fat.
The best way to reduce the amount of cellulite is to decrease excess dietary fat, eat at a reasonable calorie deficit, and exercise more, repeats Olson.
If, after you’ve cleaned up your diet, exercise regularly, and eventually get leaner, you’re still concerned about the appearance of your skin, see your doctor, dermatologist, or a plastic surgeon.
Read more about the pivotal connection between cellulite, belly fat, and unheathly eating: