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Cellulite Causes & Tips + Some Quirky Facts

Cellulite is the term we use to explain small pouches of fat which are trapped and result in dimpling of the skin. This unsightly dimpling is usually irregular and patchy – and tough to get rid of.

Whilst the vast majority of women – over 90% – go on to get cellulite to some degree in the course of their lives, men are lucky enough to escape this particular ‘curse’. Not only do women store fat more ‘efficiently’ (as Science Daily puts it) compared to men, but according to research on mice, most of our fat cells are completely different! It really is a case of men are from mars, women are from venus – or at least, our fat cells are from different parts of the galaxy…

Even though this is a study on mice, apparently mice and humans have a similar fat distribution pattern. Like people, male mice tend to store fat around the belly, and female mice store it round the hips, butt and thighs. So scientists were able to study the genetic patterns of the fat in male and female mice, and the results were surprising:

“We found that out of about 40,000 mouse genes, only 138 are commonly found in both male and female fat cells,” said Dr. Deborah Clegg, assistant professor of internal medicine at UT Southwestern Medical Center and senior author of the study appearing in the International Journal of Obesity. “This was completely unexpected. We expected the exact opposite — that 138 would be different and the rest would be the same between the sexes.” (Science Daily)

There was a positive outcome in this research for women – apparently male mice stack on more pounds than women if they eat a high fat diet for 12 weeks compared to women eating the same high fat diet

Of course, you can get cellulite whether you are obese, slightly overweight, in the normal weight range – or even underweight! So it is not an issue related to obesity per se. But cellulite is definitely more obvious in women carrying a few extra pounds, so losing weight is often a good place to start when trying to lose cellulite.

Cellulite accumulates in the subcutaneous layers of fat beneath our skin. The subcutaneous fat layer in a woman is organised (by collagen in our connective tissue) into large upright chambers allowing more fat to be stored. In men, these chambers are organised into small slanting units. Men’s slanting units store smaller fat quantities and are not likely to form cellulite.

And so, you get the bulging, dimpled effect of cellulite.

Hormones also have an impact on the storage of fat, along with the body’s cellular metabolism in the subcutaneous fat layer. Another interesting difference between the sexes in this matter is that women have more of a type of receptor in their thighs that  actually causes fat cells to make more fat. This receptor (alpha adrenergic receptors) outnumbers the fat burning, ‘thermogenic’ beta adrenergic receptor a massive 9 to 1 in women’s thighs. It’s no wonder women get cellulite there – despite being more efficient at burning calories during excercise than men.

Associate Professor O’Sullivan said. “In fact, women burn off more fat than men during exercise, but they don’t lose body fat with exercise as much suggesting women are more efficient fat storers at other times. The question is why does this paradox exist?” (Science Daily)

Cellulite develops because of these complex, physiological changes that happen in the subcutaneous fat layer. And as many women know, regular exercise and a good diet do not always reverse cellulite or prevent its creation. Poor lifestyle choices will make the overall appearance of cellulite worse over time, however. Factors like insufficient nutrients, poor quality food, xenoestrogens and other chemical toxins, poor circulation, not enough water, all have an impact on genetics.

As we age,  our skin loses elasticity, thickness and tone in the superficial layer of the connective tissue and the dermis. Also, our lifestyle seems to get more sedentry. These two issues often dovetail in an increase in cellulite .

I personally find yoga  a particularly effective form of excercise for cellulite. I don’t know if it’s because we tend to use muscles we normally wouldn’t when going to a yoga class, or if it is because it improves the lymph and circulation in a way that regular excercise doesn’t. Certain types of yoga such as Bikram yoga are great for burning calories too.

And dancers never seem to have cellulite! Given that dancing predominantly moves our butts and thighs – the two biggest problem areas – I would imagine this would also be idea for trying to get rid of cellulite.

What do you think? Have you tried endermologie and those expensive salon treatments? What about yoga and dance? My vote would be on latin American style dancing like Zumba.

Have you had any success with cellulite creams? The caffeine creams and ones which contain aminophylline work by blocking the alpha adrenergic receptors (which cause more fat the be made). Have you got a favorite?

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