The 15 best supplements and foods to get rid of cellulite
On this page:
EPA & DHA omega-3 fish oil
Rutin, hesperidin, quercetin and ascorbic acid in citrus fruits
Chlorogenic acid in coffee
EGCG in green tea
Escin and esculin in horse chestnut
Sulforaphane in broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables
The absolutely fabulous food & nutrient list
This is my essential list of anti-cellulite, skin firming and circulation enhancing foods and nutrients. Many foods and nutrients can help fight cellulite but these ones rock! Some of those nutrients can only be found in foods, some can only be found in supplement form and most are foods that can also be used in anti-cellulite creams for topical action (clearly noted below the titles). All nutrients and foods are presented in no particular order.
The best foods against cellulite are the ones that keep your stomach and brain happy/satiated due to their high fibre content, contain a negligible amount of calories and at the same time contain a high amount of phytochemicals.
Satiety + phytochemicals + low calories = the ideal anti-cellulite food
A good mix of phytochemicals from a varied diet rich in vegetables, fruit and herbs / spices can fight all aspects of cellulite, i.e. boost circulation, fight oxidative damage, inhibit fat accumulation, reduce inflammation, minimise fibrosis, reduce glycation and stimulate collagen and elastin production / skin firmness and elasticity.
© 2017-2019 Georgios Tzenichristos & LipoTherapeia Ltd
1/ Blueberries, blackberries and black grapes for skin firmness, cellulite & water retention
Berry fruits and black grapes contain polyphenols, most importantly resveratrol and pterostilbene, which are known to inhibit fat accumulation in fat cells, fight free radicals and inflammation and help protect collagen, hyaluronic acid and elastin from damage and also to stimulate their production. This means stronger, healthier, firmer skin, blood vessels and microcirculation.
Polyphenols are your legs' and your skin's best friend and the number one nutrient class against skin ageing, water retention, skin looseness and cellulite. The more polyphenols you consume, and the less sugar and empty calories, the better your overall health and appearance will be, including that of your legs and butt. Less water retention, better circulation, improved skin firmness and elasticity and even higher metabolism, are some of the benefits of polyphenols.
Berries contain very few calories compared to the amount of nutrients that they offer you, and can be consumed without thinking about calories. Berries and vegetables are the best examples of a foods that, no matter how much you eat of them, they simply cannot make you gain weight. Blueberries and blackberries are the best fruits for this purpose, but literally all berry fruits (strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, goji berries, cranberries (unsweetened of course), maqui berries, acai berries etc.), as well as pomegranates, are packed with cellulite fighting and skin elasticity preserving polyphenols.
Black/purple grapes, however, rich as they may be in polyphenols, they also contain a lot of sugars, so limit their consumption. On the other hand, you can consume as many berries and pomegranates as you wish, but always prefer actual fruit to juices or smoothies - even if they are freshly squeezed.
Do not drink berry juice drinks or packed juices, which are sugary and/or diluted, and only have fresh berry juice or actual fresh berries.
2/ Tomatoes, carrots and watermelons for skin firmness
Carotenoids for cellulite removal & skin firming (also available in nutritional supplements)
Since we mentioned polyphenols, it would be unfair to leave out carotenoids, the other big family of healthful phytochemicals.
Both the polyphenol and carotenoid groups of plant chemicals have been found in multiple studies to inhibit fat accumulation and to exert a powerful antioxidant effect. Free radical damage and fat accumulation are both important aspects of cellulite.
Tomatoes are an amazing source of carotenoids - especially 100% pure, concentrated tomato paste and passata. Carrots and watermelons are also packed with carotenoids, such as beta carotene and lycopene. And kale and several other vegetables are rich in zeaxanthin and lutein. Similar to polyphenols, prefer to acquire carotenoids from actual fruit instead of fruit juices and smoothies (vegetable juices are fine).
Watermelon contains plenty of fibre (which stimulates bowel movements) and water/potassium (which stimulate urination), so it is also a great fruit for constipation and water retention, both important factors for cellulite. On the other hand, watermelon contains quite a lot of (natural) sugar, so don't go crazy on it.
Wakame seaweed, a rich a source of the carotenoid fucoxanthin, and salmon and crustaceans, sources of astaxanthin, are two more examples of great carotenoid containing foods.
3/ Oily fish and fish oil for cellulite
Omega-3 fatty acids (EPA & DHA) for cellulite (also available in nutritional supplements)
The omega-3 fatty acids EPA & DHA are widely researched for their anti-inflammatory, lipolytic and circulation enhancing action. As inflammation, fat accumulation and water retention are important aspects of cellulite, oily fish/fish oil are great anti-cellulite foods, and they also help enhance overall health.
You do not necessarily need to eat just salmon to obtain your EPA/DHA quota: sardines, anchovies, mackerel, trout and other oily fish are excellent sources of these HUFAs (highly unsaturated fatty acids). Salmon, however, also contains the carotenoid astaxanthin, so that's an additional bonus.
As most large fish are contaminated with heavy metals and PCBs, it may be preferable to consume high quality, so-called molecularly distilled fish oil, which is free of contaminants, and which is usually sourced from small fish, such as sardines and anchovies (never consume cod liver oil, as it has excessive amounts of vitamin A).
Vegans need not miss out on the benefit of these amazing fatty acids, as vegan varieties of both EPA and DHA are now available as nutritional supplements at health food stores.
On the other hand, flaxseeds, chia seeds and walnuts, contain ALA, a type of omega-3 fatty acid which is not nearly as beneficial as DHA and EPA. In theory the body can convert ALA to DHA & EPA, but only at a rate of 5%, so sticking to EPA/DHA makes a lot of sense.
4/ Flavonoids, found in citrus fruits for cellulite, skin elasticity and water retention
Flavonoids, such as rutin, hesperidin and quercetin found in citrus and other fruits and vegetables, have a centuries' old history of use as circulation enhancers, with some of them even contained in medication for heavy legs in Europe (eg Daflon).
All these flavonoids help preserve and boost collagen, elastin and hyaluronic acid in blood vessels and skin and they are powerful antioxidants. Coincidentally, these are the same functions of vitamin C / ascorbic acid, also found in citrus fruits, so it's no wonder these "bioflavonoids" have also been typically found together with vitamin C in nutritional supplements for decades.
As skin and blood vessel firmness, integrity, elasticity and overall health are important aspects in the fight against cellulite, water retention and skin looseness, flavonoids and ascorbic acid are key anti-cellulite nutrients.
5/ High antioxidant cacao powder for cellulite & water retention
Cocoa (cacao) is "the food of the Gods" and one of the best anti-ageing secrets for your skin. It contains 300 different phytochemicals which together combine to boost microcirculation, fight free radical damage, prevent collagen and elastin breakdown and actually boost collagen and elastin synthesis. IN a nutshell, cocoa protects against cellulite in multiple ways. No single molecule is responsible for cacao's beneficial effects, which is a rich source of high-quality antioxidant polyphenols/flavanols, mainly proanthocyanidins, catechins and anthocyanins.
There are dozens of studies on the circulation and skin health enhancing properties of cocoa flavanols, so it makes sense to invest in a quality ‘high flavanol cocoa powder’ (available at health food stores or on the internet - the best I found is from a company called 'Chococru' with 8x more polyphenols than plain cocoa and 4x more than raw cocoa). It makes a wonderfully refreshing, yummy shake when mixed with a quality whey/vegan protein powder, some vanilla and some stevia.
On the other hand, avoid indulging in "70% chocolate", thinking that “it’s healthy”: 30% of it is pure sugar, which is your legs’ worst enemy. Unfortunately, no chocolate is good for your legs, even the "100% chocolate" varieties, which are packed with loads of fat and carbs and a little bit of flavanols - besides being totally untasty. Of course milk or - even worse - white chocolate has no health benefits.
Life is all about choices: do you want beautiful skin and legs with a nice cocoa protein shake, minus the sugar? Or do you prefer to remain a sugar-addicted junkie and accept faster skin ageing and cellulite?
6/ Decaffeinated coffee for cellulite
Few people know that coffee is packed with healthful plant chemicals which can help support skin and overall body health. Coffee has got a bad name due to caffeine, but take away caffeine and coffee is a health drink with zero side effects, especially green coffee (only available as supplement).
Chlorogenic acid is one of the many phytochemicals found in decaf and normal coffee and is a powerful antioxidant, as well as an anti-glycation agent (glycation is an important aspect of cellulite and overall skin ageing and laxity).
So, go on, have as many cups of decaf coffee as you wish, and as much as four cups of caffeinated coffee per day: it's good for you! Personally I use instant decaf coffee in my protein shakes, together with high flavanol cocoa, to reap the health benefits of both cocoa flavanols and coffee polyphenols.
And don't worry about "chemicals" in decaf coffee - there are none. These days almost all decaf drinks are made with the water decaffeination process, so they are absolutely safe and healthy for you.
7/ Sencha & matcha green tea for cellulite
EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate) is the most well researched and most impressive molecule in green tea.
It is a powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antifibrotic and even lipolytic molecule, thereby hitting cellulite and skin ageing from four different directions. These properties make EGCG / green tea an important ally in the fight against cellulite and skin looseness.
Similarly to chlorogenic acid and decaf coffee, it is a good idea to have decaf green tea if you are going to drink more than 3-4 cups of matcha tea or 5-6 cups of normal green tea (unbeknownst to most people, matcha tea is extremely rich in caffeine, quite often more than a strong espresso coffee). For a caffeine-free alternative to matcha tea, look for decaf sencha powder - it is equally bright green, rich in EGCG and contains no caffeine.
And, as mentioned above for decaf coffee, don't worry about "chemicals" in decaf green tea - there are none. These days almost all decaf drinks are made with the water decaffeination process, so they are safe and healthy for you. The only problem with decaffeination is that antioxidants such as EGCG are reduced - but then again you can have as much as decaf green tea a day, as you wish. Another option is to take an EGCG supplement, which offers high amounts of EGCG in one convenient capsule.
BTW, black tea and white tea contain way less EGCG than green tea, so ideally you would want to stick to green tea, if you wish to reap the benefits of EGCG.
8/ Coleus forskohlii extract for cellulite
Forskolin is probably the most potent natural lipolytic molecule known today and is routinely used in research for its lipolytic property. It also combines well with caffeine for maximum results.
However, the plant in which forskolin is found is not available in the West, so it is only available in supplement or topical (cream) form (in India and Brasil coleus forskohlii is consumed as a tea).
In addition to its lipolytic action, forskolin is also proven to boost circulation, so these two properties make it a key anti-cellulite nutrient.
9/ Centella asiatica (gotu kola) extract for skin tightness, water retention & cellulite
The centella molecules asiatic acid, madecassic acid, asiaticoside and madecassoside are all extensively researched for their circulation boosting, lipolytic, anti-glycation, skin firming, skin repairing, anti-fibrotic and anti-inflammatory actions.
With such an impressive resume, it is no wonder that the exotic herb centella asiatica (gotu kola) has been extensively used to boost circulation, skin firming and skin repair for centuries - and against cellulite for several decades.
In the West, centella is only available as a supplement or as cream for topical use. However, in Africa, India and Southeast Asia it is used in salads or as a herbal tea. I have personally cultivated a gotu kola plant and found the taste of the leaves to have a quite strong herbal taste, so I would only use it in salads in small amounts to add extra taste, in the same way we use parsley or coriander in small amounts in salads or other dishes.
10/ Turmeric for cellulite
Turmeric and curcumin, its active ingredient, are known for their anti-inflammatory action and in that respect they are an ideal companion to oily fish / fish oil, mentioned above. Curcumin has also been found to be antifibrotic, antioxidant and lipolytic, so it is an ideal anti-cellulite and anti-ageing food / topical formulation ingredient.
Turmeric can be added in smoothies, soups and almost all food recipes, while curcumin is also available as a supplement and in a handful high-end cellulite and anti-ageing creams.
11/ Horse chestnut for cellulite & water retention
Similarly to citrus flavonoids, horse chestnut, and its active ingredients escin and esculin/esculoside, have a centuries' old history of traditional use - and decades' old history of research - against water retention. In addition, esculin is a lipolytic, so it makes sense to use escin - and especially esculin - in anti-cellulite creams.
Esculoside and horse chestnut nuts/flowers/leaves are not edible, so aescin/horse chestnut extract is only available in supplement form and in topical formulations (esculoside is only available for topical use).
12/ Protein shake for skin firmness
Whey and vegan protein for skin firming and cellulite (also available as a nutritional supplement)
Your skin is made of protein. Collagen is protein, elastin is a protein too and blood vessels and muscles are mainly made of protein, so restricting your protein intake because of dubious nutritional theories is criminal, at least if you care about your skin/blood vessel/muscle integrity and health - and cellulite. Since blood vessel walls, as well as your skin, muscles and connective tissue (i.e. everything that keeps you toned) are made of protein, having less protein in your diet is a big mistake. Lack of protein means reduced production of collagen and elastin, i.e. the proteins that keep your skin firm and elastic.
If you force your body to do with less protein, it will simply reduce skin, muscle and blood vessel repair to a minimum - and of course you should forget about skin firming and muscle toning. Unfortunately, in their effort to avoid red meat, and due to constant yo-yo dieting dieting, fasting and "detoxing", most women do not consume enough protein today, leading to skin looseness, ageing and cellulite.
If you want to avoid loose skin and cellulite - and ideally boost your skin tone - protein is absolutely essential - together with exercise of course. I would recommend 40-80g or pure protein per day, depending on your body size and exercise regime. The fact is that unless you consume huge amounts of protein (much more than the above amounts), you will not harm your kidneys or other organs, as persistent nutritional fads suggest.
Protein doesn't make you fat, carbohydrates, saturated fat, lack of exercise, or the combination of those three things does. It is just impossible to get fat by eating too much lean protein, simply because fat-free protein is so filling. It is literally impossible to routinely overindulge in excessive protein intake, as is the case with saturated fat and carbs. Lean protein, i.e. protein rich-food that doesn't contain saturated fat, can be found in fish, seafood, lean cuts of meat, skin-free chicken/turkey/duck, eggs and skimmed milk. Beans, peas, chickpeas and lentils are also decent sources of protein. Processed soya, especially soya milk should be avoided, as it contains anti-nutrients that negatively affect your thyroid function and gut nutrient absorption.
Fortunately, you do not need to suffer from protein deficiency if you fast, detox, crash-diet, avoid red meat or follow a vegan diet, as there are plenty of high quality plant-based protein powders on the market to choose from. For the non-vegans but still vegetarians, a quality undenatured whey protein powder (such as Well Wisdom) is the absolutely best source of protein.
(A couple of notes on vegan food protein content)
Indeed nuts contain a lot of protein, but they also contain huge amounts of fat (from 50% fat in almonds to 76% fat in macadamia nuts - that's a LOT of fat), so they are not ideal as protein sources (even "good fat", such as nut fat, does make you fat). In addition, some so-called "high protein foods", such as quinoa, in reality are high carb / low protein foods (4.5x more carbs than protein!), so do your research first before you follow the latest food fashion.
Finally, faddy foods, such as the ubiquitous these days "protein balls", are so full of so-called "healthy sugars" and fat, that they are an extremely bad source of protein. These sugars, including "coconut nectar", honey, agave syrup, dates, "concentrated apple juice", rice syrup, raw cane sugar etc are actually every bit as bad as table sugar, and when combined with the fattening - and not so healthy and fattening - coconut oil, these protein balls are not much better than a muffin. So beware!
13/ Ground chia seeds or flax seeds for cellulite
Soluble fibre to help fight cellulite (also available as nutritional supplements)
One tablespoonful of ground chia or flax seeds (always taken with two large glasses of water) once or twice a day, is guaranteed to eliminate most cases of constipation - no laxatives, herbs or expensive "colonic irrigation" / “detox retreats abroad" needed.
Constipation is a leading cause of water retention and poor circulation on legs, which leads to the accumulation of toxins and, of course, cellulite. Most of my clients suffer from constipation, in the past having tried everything which is complicated and expensive, while disregarding such a simple, cheap and healthy solution. So they are surprised how quickly flax/chia seeds and some more water can relieve constipation: typically within 48 hours.
So go on, add some chia seeds or linseeds to your soups, salads or smoothies - and don't forget to wash them down with plenty of water, to feel regular and light again! Just make sure that the seeds are ground. Whole, intact chia/flax seeds do not work, as they do not absorb water and do not form a slippery gel in your gut.
14/ Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale etc) for cellulite
Sulforaphane in the fight against cellulite (also available in nutritional supplements)
All vegetables and herbs are great for cellulite - and overall health - but if I were to choose one group of vegetables above all else, that would be the brassica family: broccoli, cauliflower, kale, cabbage, brussel sprouts, rocket, watercress, collard greens, savoy cabbage and bok choy, are examples of brassica / cruciferous vegetables.
Vegetables of this family contain multiple phytochemicals known to boost detoxification, not least sulforaphane, which has also been found to be a lipolytic. Plus they contain the usual fibre, minerals and vitamins found in all vegetables, so they deserve to be the "flagship" group of vegetables when it comes to health benefits and cellulite.
Just make sure you cook them (except rocket and watercress) to breakdown the goitrogens that some of them contain and which may affect your thyroid (there is a reason these vegetables have traditionally been consumed cooked). So no, eating raw or juiced kale or broccoli is not a good idea.
15/ Hyaluronic acid for cellulite & skin firmness
A list about the top anti-cellulite nutrients could not be complete without hyaluronic acid. Hyaluronic acid can absorb 1000 more water than it's own weight. This is due to its unique molecular structure which allows it to literally trap water around its molecule. In skin HA traps water and add plumpness and hydration, in addition to being an integral part of skin, connective tissue and blood vessels and performing multiple other functions.
The average person has about 15 grams of hyaluronic acid in their body. Hyaluronic acid is found in cartilage, bone broth and organ meats but most importantly it is constantly produced in the body. Every day the body produces about 5 grams of hyaluronic acid to replenish older or damaged one, i.e. in three days all the hyaluronic acid in our body is being recycled. Hyaluronic acid levels start significantly declining by the age of forty.
These days you can find non-animal hyaluronic acid in supplement form as well as topical from (cream/gel). Different types of HA have different biological effects, with some reducing water retention and cellulite and some actually making it worse. Luckily, the type of HA that makes cellulite/water retention worse is only produced in the body, while the ones contained in creams/supplements are either neutral in that respect or beneficial. Phew!
© 2017-2019 Georgios Tzenichristos & LipoTherapeia Ltd
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