Everything you need to know about cellulite, definition and health and diet advice

[Article updated on 19/09/2023]

During a first telephone contact with a future patient, I always ask why she wants a dietary assessment and what her objectives are. The result is clear: the problem of cellulite is recurring. Indeed, the orange peel skin that we all hate affects nearly 95% of women, whether they are overweight or thin or even very thin. I remember, at the start of my career as a dietitian-nutritionist, an anorexic patient, hospitalized in a psychiatric hospital because she weighed barely 40 kg and her cellulite was driving her crazy! Each time I passed, she pressed her skin hard to reveal some unfortunate dimples that were still present despite her weight being clearly insufficient for her health. So what is cellulite? Why does it mainly affect women and few men (only 2%!)?

Before reading on

I’m not an expert in this field, but I am passionate about nutrition and health.

The articles you’ll find on my site are the result of in-depth research that I’d like to share with you. However, I would like to stress that I am not a health professional and that my advice should in no way replace that of a qualified physician. I’m here to guide you, but it’s important that you consult a professional for specific questions or medical concerns. Your well-being is important. So be sure to consult the appropriate experts and take the best possible care of yourself.

Focus on this unsightly storage!

Cellulite is by definition small hypertrophied subcutaneous fatty deposits generally located on the buttocks, thighs, stomach and sometimes the arms. These fatty deposits are almost always associated with edema (water retention) and poor blood circulation. Cellulite is not always visible to the naked eye but can be seen by pressing the surface of the skin between your fingers. There are 3 types of cellulite:

  • Adipose cellulite: very important fat storage;
  • Fibrous cellulite: many fat cells are fibrosed, that is to say rigid. It is the most difficult cellulite to remove because it is old and most of the time painful;
  • Infiltrated cellulite: edematous or watery cellulite accompanied by water retention.

Why are women more affected than men?

Blame it on our hormones (once again!). The time in a woman’s life when cellulite is produced in the greatest quantities is that of pregnancy. Prolactin, the hormone that will allow the production of breast milk after childbirth, gradually increases and promotes the storage of fat in the form of cellulite. Fortunately, nature is good and if breastfeeding continues for at least 6 months, all this storage will be completely destroyed (phew!). This is why cellulite appears especially in girls from adolescence with hormonal upheavals. Given that we can only experience these hormonal fluctuations, we understand why there is no miracle and definitive solution to treat cellulite.

To get rid of these abominable dimples, we can on the other hand adopt new hygienic and dietary rules which have proven themselves over time:

  • Tracking a sedentary lifestyle : doing regular physical exercise promotes better blood circulation, reduced water retention and allows you to burn more calories on a daily basis, which avoids storage in the form of fat.
  • Control your alcohol consumption as much as possible : alcohol promotes water retention and tissue congestion.
  • Avoid smoking or reduce your tobacco consumption : tobacco has a direct negative impact on blood circulation.
  • And of course eat a balanced diet! No “diet” or unnecessary calorie restriction, but it is essential to think about your food choices.
sports activity

Anti-cellulite diet

The anti-cellulite diet consists of monitoring the quality and quantity of foods consumed so that they are burned by our daily activities and not stored as fat.

Limit the consumption of saturated fats

Saturated fatty acids come mainly from foods of animal origin (cold meats, cheese, butter, crème fraîche, pork or duck fat, red meat, etc.) but also from certain plant products such as coconut oil or coconut oil. webbed. Instead, you should choose quality vegetable oils such as olive oil for its omega 6 and rapeseed or walnut oil for their omega 3 (which notably has an anti-inflammatory action).

Consume foods with low glycemic indexes

The glycemic index or Glycemic Index (GI) is a criterion for classifying foods that contain carbohydrates (sugars) according to their effect on glycemia (blood sugar level) during the 2 hours following their ingestion. Indeed, after digestion, the sugar in food is found in the blood in the form of glucose. The higher the GI of the food, the more insulin the pancreas will have to secrete to bring the blood glucose level back down to normal. Insulin then instructs the body to transform sugar into fat, which promotes weight gain and the creation of cellulite.

In addition, a diet rich in high GI foods promotes the transformation of collagen fibers by hardening them and trapping fat cells (the famous dimples appear!). It is therefore necessary to consume low GI foods to reduce this phenomenon. For example, we will choose wholemeal bread and lentils rather than quick-cooking white pasta or baguette. We will avoid industrial sugars (biscuits, candies, etc.), hidden sugars (glycerol, sorbitol, mannitol, etc.), light products (often low in fat but not in sugar!). Consuming foods with a high GI will be more judicious at the end of a complete meal (with dessert). Thus other foods will slow down the speed of digestion of the latter (thanks to fiber, fats and proteins in particular) and will significantly reduce the secretion of insulin from the pancreas.

Bran bread

Act on dietary factors that promote water retention!

The first factor of water retention is, contrary to what one might think, not drinking enough. Indeed, there is no point monitoring everything we eat or paying high prices for anti-cellulite massages if our body lacks water! We need on average 1.5L of water per day (including hot drinks such as tea or herbal teas). A simple check consists of monitoring the color of the urine which should be colored in the morning when you wake up and then lighter during the day.

You also need to track down salt and refined sugar: cheese, cold meats, aperitifs (crisps, salted peanuts, etc.), cookies, candies, sodas, ultra-processed foods, etc.

Finally, it is good to choose foods rich in potassium which drain (examples: cooked white beans and other legumes, bananas, dried apricots, spinach, sweet potatoes, parsley, etc.) and naturally promote good elimination.

Look for sources of flavonoids

To strengthen blood vessels and prevent edema. These molecules contained in foods rich in vitamin C are part of the family of antioxidants which help to improve the appearance of the skin.

Eat lighter in the evening!

In fact, the body needs less energy during the sleep phase. A meal that is too rich in the evening will result in immediate storage of excess fat. An ideal evening meal must include vegetables, a little whole starch, a little protein (a small portion of fish, an egg, etc.) and yogurt or compote. As a bonus, sleep will be of better quality!

Ensure you have sufficient intake of good quality protein

Meat, fish, eggs, lentils, chickpeas… are necessary for the liver to produce hormones or albumin which prevent edema.

To conclude, the better and more regular the lifestyle, the less nasty cellulite will stick! Balanced diet and regular sporting activity remain the keys to the problem.