12 more tips for firm, cellulite-free legs
Cellulite removal: the essentials
Smoking and cellulite • Inactivity, cellulite and loose skin • Exercise, cellulite and skin firmness • Estrogen, the contraceptive pill and cellulite • Alcohol, cortisol and cellulite • Binge eating/drinking and cellulite • Hydrogenated / fried fats and oils and cellulite • Still and sparkling water and cellulite • Cellulite treatments whilst you lose weight • Black rice: the ultimate carb food • Decaf coffee, tea, green tea, green coffee and cocoa for cellulite • Vegetables, salads, seaweed, herbs and spices: the ultimate anti-cellulite nutrition
More essential tips for cellulite reduction & skin toning
In the first part of these series, I presented the 10 hottest tips on how to remove your cellulite fast. On this page, I am presenting the 12 essential tips to help you get rid of cellulite, in time for summer. These are not as urgent and not as fast acting as the tips above, but they are absolutely crucial too: they form the basis of any cellulite removal / skin tightening regime and can make a huge difference in the mid and long term, for long-lasting results.
© 2017-2019 Georgios Tzenichristos & LipoTherapeia Ltd
1> Quit smoking. And if possible, vaping too.
Smoking and cellulite
In the only study examining heredity and cellulite, smoking was identified as a key factor for causing cellulite in a large number of genetically predisposed women. Clearly smoking may not affect all women the same in regard to cellulite, but it does affect SOME women quite severely and quite quickly, and ALL women to a greater or lesser extent over time.
Smoke components, such as tar, nicotine and additives, cause oxidative damage, inflammation and fibrosis on skin and blood/lymph vessels, thereby impairing circulation and lymph drainage and deteriorating the quality of skin collagen and elastin. Since fibrosis/connective tissue deterioration, poor circulation/lymphatic drainage and inflammation are all major causes of cellulite, it is easy to understand why smoking is so bad for cellulite.
On the other hand, smoking may indeed decrease appetite and reduce fat absorption by fat cells in the more "genetically gifted" women. However, in the long run the negative effects catch up with all women, regardless of genetics, wreaking havoc on skin, blood vessels and cellulite - not to mention overall health.
Despite the absence of tar, vaping is only marginally better than smoking, as it still delivers nicotine to the body, which directly affects blood vessels and cellulite in a negative way . So the best solution is to quit altogether.
2> Move your body!
Inactivity, lack of mechanical stimulation cellulite and loose skin
Sitting is the new smoking, scientists say, and causes numerous health conditions, even if you exercise three times a week. Exercise is not enough, so leaving your desk every hour, taking the stairs instead of the lift and power walking as much as possible are essential if you want to prevent cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer - and the same applies to cellulite and loose skin.
Inactivity is a close second to sugar consumption as a leading cause of cellulite and number one cause for skin laxity and can turn nice, firm, smooth skin into a mushy, bumpy look in a matter of months. Inactivity upsets the calorie balance and encourages large amounts of calories to be stored as fat in the adipocytes, including the adipocytes found in the "cellulite layer" of the hips and thighs. This process is accelerated with sugar consumption and very quickly leads to cellulite creation.
Like sugar, inactivity has a "double whammy" effect in cellulite creation: it does not just cause cellulite by upsetting your body's calorie balance. Inactivity also deprives your collagen and elastin producing cells (fibroblasts) of the valuable mechanical stimulation they need to stay functional and productive. Moreover, inactivity encourages your fat cells to proliferate at the expense of fibroblasts, thereby replacing your firmness with fat. And finally, as fat cells enlarge, they start breaking down your collagen network, further making your skin spongy soft.
In eight words: "inactivity is the biggest cause of loose skin".
3> Train. At high intensity, if possible.
Exercise, cellulite and skin firmness
Now that we have established how bad inactivity is for you and how important movement and exercise are, let's quickly talk about exercise. As I discussed elsewhere on this guide, there are no specific "exercises" for cellulite, but there are indeed certain "types of exercise" which are better than others.
In a nutshell, the more vigorous the type of exercise, the better. The higher your heart rate or the more you are out of breath with a specific type of exercise, the more calories you burn - and the more you shrink cellulite. It is as simple as that. It doesn't matter if you achieve the high heart rate/breathing rate with swimming, running, cycling, uphill walking or any other method. As long as you produce adrenaline, you burn fat and you boost your metabolism. As mentioned elsewhere on this guide, interval training, i.e. intermittent high intensity training is preferred to continuous intensity training - be it swimming, running, cycling etc.
One last word: it is obvious from the above that slow/low intensity exercise, such as Pilates, Yoga or leisurely speed walking is not that effective for cellulite reduction. However, for those who for health reasons cannot do high intensity, these types of exercise are better than nothing.
4> Lose "the pill"
Estrogen, The contraceptive pill and cellulite
The birth control pill may have contributed to the liberation of women, uncoupling the issue of reproduction from that of sex, but it has also put a new word in our vocabulary: cellulite. There is no denying that the word cellulite appeared in our language (at least in the French language, to begin with) at roughly the same time that the use of the contraceptive pill became widespread.
And for good reason: estrogen is the main factor why women (and transexuals) develop cellulite and men don't. And excessive estrogen, provided by hormonal contraception in the form of pills, patches, injections and medicated coils, is one of the main reasons why cellulite is so prevalent today.
When combined with inactivity or excess calories, excessive amounts of artificial estrogen encourage fat cells in the subcutaneous layer of the skin in the thigh and butt area to enlarge and multiply out of control. This sets the foundations for the development of "pre-cellulite" first and cellulite-proper afterwards, as well as skin looseness.
I have seen thousands of women over the last two decades and I have found that women who have been for many years on the pill display what I call "the pill look": spongy-soft, puffy skin, pronounced cellulite and curiously, as excess fat not mainly on the back of the legs or the saddlebag area, but also on the front of the thighs, a kind of uniform fat deposition which one of my clients quite aptly calls "my fat trousers". Of course not all women react to the pill - or diet or exercise or anything else for that matter - in the same way, but this is the typical "pill look".
The effects of the pill on circulation and increased risk of blood clotting are already very well-known. Excessive, artificial. alien to the body estrogen is even worse than natural, ovary-secreted estrogen, both for cellulite and for water retention / overall health. Opt for other contraception methods that do not cause cellulite, such as the diaphragm or condoms, or at least talk with your doctor about low estrogen pill alternatives.
5> Cut down the booze
alcohol, cortisol and cellulite
Alcohol is very similar in it's effects to sugar, in that it provides the body with potentially cellulite-causing excess calories, plus the means to guide those calories straight into the fat cells.
This is because alcohol metabolites are preferentially used by the body as a fuel source, leaving the carbohydrates and fats to be stored as fat in the fat cells. Furthermore, alcohol increases cortisol, the stress hormone, which has a stimulating effect on fat absorption by fat cells, especially on the stomach, but also on thighs, arms etc.
Alcohol also increases appetite, tires the liver, reduces energy levels, and in the long run causes water retention and poor circulation - after an initial diuretic and blood vessel-dilating effect.
When alcohol is combined with sugars / refined carbs (as in beer and cocktails) the effects are magnified. Predictably, when alcohol is combined with hormonal contraception, inactivity, sugar/overeating and smoking things become even worse...
Alcohol would be much higher up on this list if it's use was as widespread as that of sugars. For young women, who tend to drink more, alcohol is in fact a major cause of cellulite.
6> Go easy with...
Binge-eating, binge-drinking and cellulite
Overeating, especially in combination with inactivity, upsets the calorie balance in your body and can lead to excessive deposition of fat into your fat cells, including your cellulite fat cells. Mild calorie imbalance would not normally be a significant cellulite-causing factor, as your body can adjust it's metabolism to accommodate for a few extra calories. Or, alternatively, you could make up for mild overeating one day by exercising on the same or another day.
However, with serious overeating, or binge-eating, things are different. When you consume, for example 500 or even 1,000 calories more than you need on a single day, you body has no other option than to literally "dump" those excess calories straight into your fat cells, especially your hip, bum and thigh cellulite layer fat cells.
I have described above how these fat cells acts as a fat trap due to action of estrogen. The effects of overeating also become worse when it is combined with inactivity or when sugary foods are consumed.
As you have probably guessed, binge-drinking is similar in it's effects to binge eating, but much worse: moderate regular alcohol consumption (especially beer or cocktail consumption) may in itself be a cause of cellulite, but not as important as binge-drinking or binge-eating are. Seven glasses on a Friday night is not the same as a glass once a day. A small glass of wine every second day is absolutely fine, especially if you follow a low carbohydrate diet, but any other type of alcohol or higher consumption will undermine your cellulite prevention/reduction effort.
Moral of the story: do not drink more than three glasses of alcohol on any given day. And do not binge on food either - even "healthy" food, such as "healthy carbs", "healthy fats" etc. Foods can be "healthy" but also very fattening.
Extra tip: Most restaurant food is laden with an excess of fat, sugar and salt to make it more palatable, so eating out often is in fact a way of overeating without realising it, as you over-consume fat and sugar.
7> Ditch the trans fats - and the frying pan
Hydrogenated / fried fats and oils and cellulite
The effects of hydrogenated fats/oils (also known as trans fats or trans fatty acids) and fried fats/oils are now very well described by science. These denatured oils and fats act as toxins and cause inflammation, glycation and oxidative damage. In this way they impair the function of every single cell in the body, including mitochondria in all cells, where our energy is produced. And in addition, they damage collagen and elastin on skin and and blood vessels. In this way, hydrogenated / fried fats and oils indirectly, but significantly, contribute to cellulite formation (not to mention cancer and heart disease). A more direct contribution, of course, comes from the excess calories that these fats and oils carry.
So ditch all trans-fats, commonly found in margarine, biscuits, pastries, pasties, margarine, crisps etc.
Cellulite can be defined as a combination of excess fat, poor circulation/lymphatic drainage, connective tissue deformity, skin looseness, inflammation, oxidative damage, glycation and toxin infiltration, and as you can see trans fats and fried oils tick almost all the boxes.
My advice is: just lose the frying pan, and forget sauteing, deep frying, pan frying, shallow frying, frying to "lock in the juices", frying anything. Every time you fry, your oxidise some fat that will ultimately be incorporated in the membrane of every cell and every mitochondrion in your body and cause havoc and ill health. Needless to say that oxidised fat (as opposed to pure, fresh, virgin fat/oil) is what forms oxidised LDL (oxLDL) and causes heart disease.
Fried food is quite simply a crime against your legs, heart and blood vessels. That is especially true of fried hydrogenated fat + fried sugar + fried carbs, as in donuts, pictured above, probably the worst type of food you can put in your mouth: sugar, hydrogenated fat, highly peroxidised fat, glycated protein, refined carbs, all in one, an absolute nutritional disaster.
Moral of the story: try to consume only raw fat contained in food nuts, avocados and extra virgin oils in glass bottles, such as extra virgin olive oil, virgin coconut oil etc. Some meat fat is fine too, but avoid fatty cuts of meat and avoid grilling/searing it at high temperatures. Limited stir-frying, always with some water to reduce cooking temperature, and with a very small amount of extra virgin olive oil or extra virgin coconut butter is fine though.
8> Drink lots of water - even fizzy water
Still and sparkling water and cellulite
This is so basic and so cliché, I avoided adding it on this guide for a very long time.
Of course drinking lots water is essential for cellulite prevention/reduction. Water aids kidney function, detoxification and lymphatic drainage and overall skin health, but most importantly large intestine function / elimination.
Did you know that the major function of the large intestine is to reabsorb water used for digestion back into your bloodstream? If you do not drink plenty of water, water is completely drained out of your digested food, turning your stools into rocks that refuse to be expelled. Stools should be moist, if you expect to be regular and healthy. Dried up, rock-hard stools are bad news for your digestion - and bad news for your thighs too.
Most women who come to our clinic suffer to a lesser or greater extent from constipation, with all the known negative consequences, including impaired detoxification, water retention and varicose veins.
So, yes, if you lived in a cave and have not heard that before, you should drink lots of water - anything from a minimum of 1.5 litres to a maximum of 4 litres per day. Less than that is criminal for your body and more than that can be overwhelming for your system or even dangerous - not to mention the hourly visits to the toilet.
And yes, sparkling/fizzy/carbonated water is absolutely fine to drink. Carbon dioxide, which makes up the bubbles in sparkling water, does not, of course, cause cellulite. What is wrong with "soda"/fizzy drinks (and "flavoured" water too) is not the bubbles, it's the sugar or sweeteners contained in them.
In summary, steer clear from "flavoured" water and soda/cola/fizzy drinks and just drink pure still or sparkling water instead, ideally filtered water or spring water. Add a slice of lime, lemon, orange or mandarin and a mint, basil or coriander leaf and enjoy!
9/ Maximise the results of your cellulite treatment or cream by losing weight at the same time
Treat your cellulite whilst you lose weight - not before or after
If you are going to lose weight, or even crash diet, do it while you receive a cellulite treatment or use a cellulite cream - not before or after.
If you are overweight or have a few extra pounds, you might think that it is a good idea to first lose the weight and then have a treatment or use a cellulite cream when you're "ready". However, this obsessive-compulsive thinking is the most counter-productive thing you can do, because this way you miss out on the maximisation of cellulite reduction that losing weight offers.
Effective cellulite treatments/creams work by stimulating the local release of fat from "stubborn" areas. This released fat must then be oxidised (burned) by the body, so that it does not return into the same fat cells. When you lose weight, you seriously accelerate fat release from the treated areas and you also ensure that the released fat is burned and eliminated from your body for good. For this reason, all cellulite removal treatments and creams work much better if you also lose weight at the same time.
However, if you wait to lose the bulk of your weight first and then embark on a cellulite reduction treatment, you lose the advantage that weight loss offers you and results are less pronounced and take more treatments to occur. This applies to all cellulite treatments and creams.
There is also another unexpected but very important reason why you should combine weight loss with cellulite treatments or creams: motivation. Having a treatment once a week and/or applying a cream twice a day will make you want to stay on track with your diet and exercise. You will want to make the most of your money so you will lose weight with more determination and you will more easily avoid distraction.
So my advice is, don't put it off and don't wait to lose the weight to deal with the other problems - work on all of them at the same time, for a synergistic effect and for extra motivation!
10/ If you are going to have carbs, let it be black rice
Black rice: the best carb you can eat
What is the best carb food you can eat - for cellulite, weight loss or keeping healthy? But black rice for course, the ultimate complex carb!
Many people today follow a low carb diet, refraining from starch-rich foods (what most people call "carbs"), such as potatoes, rice, pasta, bread, corn etc. This is because those foods have a low ratio of nutrients versus calories and quite often a high glycaemic index (they raise blood sugar levels too fast and too much). This does not help at all with weight maintenance, fat loss or cellulite reduction.
However, there is one complex "carb" with very high nutrient to calorie ratio: black rice. Black rice (also known as purple rice) is very high in polyphenols / antioxidants (even more than in blueberries). It's bran hull (outermost layer) contains one of the highest levels of anthocyanins found in food. It also has a similar amount of fiber to brown rice, which means that it helps digestion and regularity and that is also has a low glycaemic index (it has a GI of 42, versus 72 for white rice).
Like brown rice, black rice has a mild, aromatic, nutty taste, and a deep black color which turns deep purple when cooked. To cook, simply use one part of black rice and four parts of black rice and simmer until all water is absorbed. Black rice can be used in place of white rice (one of the highest GI carbs available and not very good for you at all) or brown rice (low GI, high in fibre, but no antioxidants).
In summary, if there is one "carb" food I would recommend, that would be black rice, due to the very high anthocyanin / antioxidant content. Anthocyanins, like most polyphenols, are well-known for their beneficial effect on cardiovascular health, anti-ageing, diabetes prevention and cellulite prevention.
Wild rice, red rice, brown rice, red & black quinoa ~ Blueberries & blackberries ~ Black & red beans
A second best would be wild rice (which is also dark brown / black, but does not have nearly as many antioxidants). A third best would be red (camargue) rice and red or black quinoa (yes, quinoa is a carb-rich food and contains very little protein, contrary to the urban myth).
Of course, the absolute best carb-containing foods are berry fruits (blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, raspberries etc.) , which have a very high antioxidant content and very, very few carbohydrates and calories. This means that berry fruits have an extremely high nutrient to calorie ratio.
Black rice is superior to black or dark red beans, in terms of antioxidant content, as no water is thrown away after cooking black rice, while after boiling / steaming beans some water has to be thrown away, with all the antioxidants contained in it. Note: there are two types of black rice: glutinous (sticky) and non-glutinous. It is better to prefer the non-glutinous, as it has a higher fibre content and lower GI.
11/ Learn to love decaf
Decaf coffee, tea, green tea, green coffee and cocoa for cellulite
All these drinks contain huge amounts of antioxidants/polyphenols per gram, so they can be classified as superfoods and you can have as much as you wish of those every day. Don't worry about the decaffeination process, these days all manufacturers decaffeinate their coffee/tea via the water process, which is absolutely natural. Caffeine itself does not cause cellulite, but its strong stimulant effect poses a limitation to the consumption of these drinks, hence the emphasis on decaf.
However, if you need to put sugar to consume these drinks (including honey, agave and brown sugar), forget these drinks altogether, as the sugar will offset any benefits you derive from the polyphenols/antioxidants (sugar is the number one cause of cellulite).
The only sweeteners you can use are the natural sweetener stevia (widely available in the West these days) or lo han guo (much less available), which you may use conservatively once or twice a day - but no more.
By the way, avoid artificial sweeteners such as sucralose and aspartame like the plague...
12/ Fall in love with veggies, salads, seaweed / Spice up your life with herbs and spices
vegetables, seaweed, salads, herbs and spices:
the ultimate anti-cellulite nutrition
Vegetables, salads, seaweed, herbs and spices contain loads of fibre, water, vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals and very little in the way of calories, so they are the basis of the anti-cellulite diet. The more you eat, the better, without any limitation. The more vegetables and salads you eat, the less space you make in your stomach for carbs, fat and sugar that (in excess) cause cellulite.
Can you eat a mixed salad out the bag, like people eat crisps? That's the idea!
Which are the best veggies? I can't really discriminate. Broccoli, cauliflower and kale are great sources of sulforaphane (great for detoxification) and any dark vegetable is rich in chlorophyll and carotenoids, but then again lettuce contains catalase and other enzymes, seaweed is packed with iodine and carotenoids, tomatoes and bell peppers contain lycopene, artichokes are great for digestion and detox, and the list of benefits goes on... To be honest, I find it quite silly to choose a vegetable as better than others, as science continuous processes and every day new nutrients are discovered in different vegetables, so the lowly veggie of today could well become the superfood of tomorrow.
The same applies to herbs and spices. Today turmeric is the miracle spice (and quite rightly so) but tomorrow scientists may discover that its less glamorous relative cumin is even better, so don't discriminate. Go for parsley, dill, coriander, fennel, thyme, oregano, basil, cumin, turmeric, paprika etc. Just go easy with hot chili, pepper, horseradish, mustard, wasabi, ginger, garlic and onions, which may irritate your stomach, if consumed in high amounts.
You may use lemon, wine/cider vinegar (not balsamic vinegar, which is sugary) or low salt soya sauce, a bit of olive oil and sugar-free mustard to dress your salad/cooked vegetables, but no honey mustard, mayonnaise and especially ready-made salad dressings. You may also use low sodium/high potassium salt if you wish.
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