By Dr. Mercola
Cellulite, those pockets of fat that tend to collect on buttocks, thighs and upper arms, are a cause of embarrassment for many. The dimpling, "orange peel" effect occurs when fat cells push against the surrounding subcutaneous connective tissue in your skin. If your lymph circulation becomes sluggish, toxins accumulate in these fat cells.
Liposuction, creams and wraps only temporarily reduce the appearance of cellulite. Without continual treatment, cellulite just reappears...So what, if anything, might actually work to reduce cellulite?
The featured article in The Guardian1 suggests body brushing. Simply give yourself a vigorous scrub-down with a dry body brush before you get into the shower, and then apply a good moisturizer afterward. (I recommend plain coconut oil opposed to chemical-laden creams). According to the writer, this simple technique "really did, honest-to-God, make a remarkable difference in just a few weeks."
There's certainly nothing wrong with this strategy; body brushing can help improve circulation and lymph flow, which are important elements for cellulite elimination. The downside is having to manually scrub yourself in areas that can be hard or uncomfortable to reach. Three strategies that I believe might be far more effective, in order of importance, are as follows, and in the following sections I'll explain why:
- Intermittent fasting
- Whole body vibration training, a.k.a. Acceleration Training
- Rebound exercise
Intermittent Fasting Shifts Your Body from Burning Sugar to Burning Fat
In a nutshell, the answer to eliminating cellulite is to shift your body from burning sugar to efficiently burning fat for fuel, in order to get rid of excess fat deposits. Intermittent fasting is one of the most powerful interventions I know of to move your body into fat burning mode.
One of the mechanisms that makes fasting so effective for fat loss is the fact that it provokes the secretion of human growth hormone (HGH), which is a fat-burning hormone. Fasting also increases catecholamines, which increases resting energy expenditure while decreasing insulin levels, which allows stored fat to be burned for fuel.
Together, these and other factors will turn you into an effective fat-burning machine.
The type of fast you choose appears to be less important, so pick whichever one fits your lifestyle, schedule, and temperament the best. For variations, see this previous article on intermittent fasting. I have been experimenting with different types of scheduled eating in my own life for the past three years, and my preference is to simply skip breakfast and restrict my eating to a 6-7 hour window each day.
For this version of intermittent fasting to be effective, you need to restrict your eating to a window of maximum eight hours each day. This means eating only between the hours of 11am until 7pm, as an example. Essentially, this equates to simply skipping breakfast and making lunch your first meal of the day instead.
This is doable and convenient for most people, but you can restrict it even further — down to six, four, or even two hours, if you want, but you can still reap many of these rewards by limiting your eating to a window of about eight hours.
In the 6-8 hours that you do eat, you want to have healthy protein, minimize your carbs like pasta and bread and potatoes and exchange them for healthful fats like butter, eggs, avocado, coconut oil, olive oil and nuts. (The type of fats the media and "experts" tell you to avoid.)
This will help shift your body from sugar-burning mode to fat-burning mode. Remember it takes a few weeks to make the transition. You have to do it gradually, but once you succeed and switch to fat burning mode, you will easily be able to fast for 18 hours and not feel hungry. Your cravings for sugar will magically disappear and it will be much easier to achieve your ideal weight.
How Acceleration Training Can Help Beat Cellulite
Next, reconsider how you exercise. One form of exercise that provides many of the same health benefits as intermittent fasting is high intensity interval training (HIIT). Doing these kinds of Peak Fitness exercises while fasted (i.e. exercise before you break your fast) will further boost the effects. One of the ways HIIT can be particularly helpful for combating cellulite is that it significantly boosts your levels of human growth hormone (HGH) which, as mentioned earlier, is a fat-burning hormone.
But another form of exercise that is particularly useful for combating cellulite in particular is Acceleration Training, in which you perform exercises on a vibrating platform such as the Power Plate.
Acceleration Training improves your lymph circulation, helping break down cellulite from the inside out. The vibrations cause thousands of muscle contractions that pump your lymphatic fluid out of problem areas, reducing fluid congestion in your tissues. This helps to flush out toxins and ease the load on your immune system. This mechanism has been scientifically shown to actually help rid your body of excess pounds and unsightly cellulite.
In a 2004 German study,2 Acceleration Training alone reduced cellulite on subjects' thighs and buttocks by nearly 26 percent. When cardio exercises were added to Vibration Training, cellulite dropped even more; just over 32 percent. Other research confirms its benefits for sustained fat loss. For example, one animal study3 showed that Acceleration training caused a drop in the creation of new fat cells, and a 2010 study4 on humans found that:
- Those using Acceleration Training in addition to a low calorie diet lost twice as much visceral fat after six months compared to those who followed a low calorie diet with cardio and weight training.
- The decrease in visceral fat remained at the same level in the vibration group after 12 months, while the diet and fitness groups returned to their normal baseline values after 12 months. The researchers suggested that the maintenance of visceral fat loss in the Acceleration Training group might be related to hormonal changes—specifically, increased production of human growth hormone (HGH).
As You Get Older, Growth Hormone Levels Can Affect Your Fat Deposits
Many tend to gain weight as they approach middle age, and if you don't stay physically active, you also start losing muscle mass around age 40. Overall, you start burning fewer calories as your body shifts from building muscle to storing more fat. This is in part caused by what's known as "somatopause" — the decline of your body's hormone production as you age, which includes dwindling production of human growth hormone (HGH). HGH actually starts declining rapidly after age 21, so by the time you hit your 40's, your levels can be quite low, contributing to these stubborn fat deposits.
The amount of HGH you secrete depends on how much lean body mass and belly fat you have. The more belly fat you have, the less HGH your body produces. Some resort to HGH injections to maintain youthful levels. According to ConsumerProductsReview.org,5 HGH injections are now also considered a "revolutionary" way to reduce cellulite. But there are significant drawbacks to HGH injections, both biological and financial.
As discussed above, there are at least three different ways you can elevate your HGH levels naturally, either alone or in combination. Each of these can very effectively boost HGH production, and when combined I have no doubt it can rival or even surpass injections, but without any of the associated health risks or cost:
- Intermittent fasting
- High intensity interval training (HIIT)
- Acceleration Training
Even a Mini Trampoline—or Rebounding—Can Help Improve Cellulite
Acceleration training works by increasing the acceleration or the force of gravity on your body. To a lesser degree, a mini trampoline will also increase the G forces on your body and provide similar, yet less extreme, benefits. A mini trampoline or rebounder subjects your body to gravitational pulls ranging from zero at the top of each bounce to 2 to 3 times the force of gravity at the bottom, depending on how high you jump. And, unlike jogging on hard surfaces which stresses your ankles and knees, rebounding helps protect against this stress so it's easy on the joints.
Some of the benefits rebounding offers include circulating oxygen and nutrients to tissues and organs, and promoting increased muscle strength. It's an option you can use if the cost of a vibration platform such as the Power Plate is prohibitive. Acceleration Training on a high-quality machine will definitely offer more powerful benefits though, and some gyms do have them, so it's worth checking around.
Tying it All Together...
Foods high in sugars and carbs, damaged fats (think trans fats) and processed salt are all dietary contributors to cellulite, so addressing your diet should be your first step. My optimized Nutrition Plan can help you do that with the least amount of fuss as it takes you step by step through the changes, from beginners to advanced.
It's important to realize that dietary carbohydrates, especially fructose, are the primary source of a substance called glycerol-3-phosphate (g-3-p), which actually causes fat to become fixed in fat tissue. High carb intake also raises your insulin levels, which prevents fat from being released, so sugars and grains are really at the root of stubborn fat deposits.
In short, you'll want to avoid processed foods, as they are loaded with fructose and highly processed fats and salt. Keep in mind that for every gram of excess sodium chloride your body has to neutralize, it uses up 23 grams of cellular water. Hence, eating too much common processed salt will cause fluid to accumulate in your tissues, which can also contribute to unsightly cellulite.
Instead, focus your diet on whole, ideally organic and locally grown foods, healthful fats such as butter, eggs, avocado, coconut oil, olive oil and nuts, and grass-fed or pastured animal protein. If you want to add salt, make sure to use unprocessed natural salt, such as Himalayan salt, which contains about 86 different essential minerals and will not cause the same detrimental health effects as processed salt—especially if you're eating a diet high in vegetables, as this will ensure a healthy sodium to potassium ratio.
Eating this way will help you transition from being a sugar burner to burning fat as your primary fuel, which is key for lasting weight loss and optimal health. However, do not attempt fasting if your diet still consists mainly of processed foods as proper nutrition becomes even more important at that stage. Next, revise your exercise regimen to include some high intensity interval exercises, and consider Acceleration Training to further boost results—especially if you want to tackle cellulite.