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Ask Raphael: Get Rid of Cellulite

Posted Jan 07 2010 12:17pm

Hello Raphael,

I have 70 pounds to lose and I’m just fed up with living like this. I have a lot of cellulite on my legs and butt, and I’d like to know if my cellulite will go away once I lose these 70 pounds? Thanks for all that you do. - Gina


An excellent question and ideal, considering lots of people are living out their New Year's resolutions now. There are so many myths and misconceptions related to cellulite, but I’m going to share the truth with you.

Cellulite can absolutely be reduced! First, let me describe what cellulite is, and then I will provide a realistic solution to diminish it.

From a medical standpoint, cellulite does not exist. You're probably thinking, “Oh yes, it does and I can show you!” but please allow me to explain.

Cellulite is nothing more than fat. Len Kravitz, Ph.D., who published an outstanding article entitled Cellulite: Everything You Want To Know and More, states that “the name (cellulite) originated from French medical literature over 150 years ago.” And, he goes onto describe the physiological reasons why cellulite is nothing more than plain ole’ body fat.

If we examine the fat cells of males and females, we find that both sexes have connective tissue that segment fat cells into compartments. However, men have more of a crisscross/horizontal pattern within the compartments. The fat chambers of men appear as small diagonal units, which store smaller quantities of fat.

On the other hand, women have a honeycomb appearance to their fat compartments. In women, fat is organized into large vertical chambers where an abundance of fat can be stored. The vertical/honeycomb shape of the fat compartments is what makes cellulite stand out so prominently. This honeycomb appearance gives fat a greater chance to bulge from the skin.

Another problem is the location of cellulite in relation to the skin. To better understand this, we need to understand skin anatomy.

Now please stay with me on this…

Human skin anatomy is composed of three layers: the epidermis, the dermis and subcutaneous fat.

The epidermis is the top (protective) layer of skin and is somewhat translucent. The epidermis is attached to the next layer, the dermis.

The dermis is the second, deeper layer of your skin. The dermis is where hair roots, nerve endings, blood vessels and sweat glands reside.

Subcutaneous (which means just beneath the skin) fat is at the bottom, or lowest layer, of your skin. This is where your larger blood vessels and nerves are. Subcutaneous fat is attached to your bones and muscles by connective tissue, which is somewhat loose and flexible.

If there is an abundance of fat at this subcutaneous level, it becomes extremely visible to the eye. So what is this abundance of fat? This is the nemesis we refer to as cellulite. The actual amount and appearance will depend on your individual genetics and body fat level.

So you’ve got this honeycomb shaped fat perched as close to the surface of the skin that Mother Nature will allow for. Uggggh!

As my wife responded when I shared this information with her, “Who cares?! How do I get rid of it?" The answer isn’t very exciting, but it is effective.

Consider the following from The American Council On Exercise (ACE) concerning research on the reduction of cellulite:

“So what can you do to diminish the appearance of cellulite? Experts recommend daily cardio exercise combined with two to three strength-training sessions a week and a healthy diet."

What? That’s it? Read on…

The good news is that there’s actual proof that this approach works. Wayne Westcott, Ph.D., fitness research director at the South Shore YMCA in Quincy, Mass., and author of No More Cellulite, designed a cellulite-reduction program that includes 20 minutes of strength training with five exercises for the upper body and five for the lower body, and 20 minutes of treadmill walking or jogging, staying at about 70-80 percent of maximal heart rate. This program is followed three days per week, although participants can always perform more cardio.

Participants in an 8-week study of Westcott’s program lost about 1 pound per week or about 10 pounds after two months. When participants combined the exercise program with good eating habits (a food pyramid–based diet consisting of 1,600, 2,220 or 2,800 calories), they doubled the fat loss, losing 9.1 pounds of fat (compared to 4.5 pounds without the nutritional component).

In another study led by Westcott, 72 men and women did three 30-minute workouts for eight weeks. The group that did only aerobic exercise, cycling for 30 minutes at a time, lost 4 pounds of fat but gained no muscle, which only slightly improved body composition.

Yet when subjects did aerobic exercise (15 minutes of cycling) and strength training, they dropped 10 pounds of fat and added 2 pounds of muscle, which resulted in a greater improvement in body composition.

We reduce body fat (cellulite) through the formula of diet, resistance training, cardiovascular exercise and consistency. Precisely what was used by Dr. Westcott.

Maybe you’re still thinking, “Is that all there is?” You read all of this only for me to tell you that you need a healthy calorie-reduced nutritional program, resistance training, cardiovascular exercise and consistency?

Yes. That is the harsh reality.

The amount of cellulite you lose will depend on individual genetics and body fat level reached. Some women can completely eliminate all signs of cellulite and some women will still show some degree of it due to the information I provided earlier. However, no matter what, it can be greatly reduced through the formula of diet, resistance training, cardio and consistency!

I recommend four brisk walks per week for 30 minutes and two days per week of strength training for 20 minutes. Combine this with an eDiets nutrition program or meal delivery program and your body fat will reduce and that’s how you can reduce cellulite.

Gina , eDiets has many successful members who asked the same question when they first joined our site. You are not alone. Please take a look at some of them:

I hope you join eDiets and allow us to help you to experience a magical and fulfilling 2010. If you join, please stop by my Exercise and Fitness support board so I can personally help with your fitness program.

Have a fitness question you want answered? Email Raphael at and you could have your question picked! And if you missed a previous column, see the archive here.

Make NOW your time to do something about your weight. eDiets can help make weight loss a little easier. Let our nutritionists and fitness pros guide you! Click here for a FREE diet profile.
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