Cellulite is a condition that causes the skin in certain regions of the body to take on a dimpled appearance, often compared with the surface of an orange peel. This condition most commonly appears in women on the upper thighs and buttocks. In men, cellulite is less frequently noticed because it appears most often around the waist and abdomen.
The Cause of Cellulite
The dimpled skin texture that characterizes cellulite is due to the presence of a layer of fat accumulating under the skin and pushing up against strands of connective tissue fibers that anchor the skin to the muscle layer underneath. The dimples appear at the points where the connective tissue adhesions prevent the skin from being pushed out by the accumulating fat. As with many characteristics that vary from person to person, there are differences in the length of these adhesions among people, giving those with the shortest adhesions the greatest tendency for developing cellulite.
Why is Cellulite More Prominent in Women
Cellulite is generally thought to be a condition more frequently found in women and there is some truth to this. The female hormone estrogen secreted by the ovaries stimulates the storage of subcutaneous fat. With much lower levels of circulating estrogen, men generally have a much thinner layer of subcutaneous fat and, therefore, less tendency to show cellulite. The prominent hormone circulating in men is testosterone, which stimulates the production of proteins. Because of this, men tend to have more dense layers of protein-rich connective tissue within their skin, leading to an overall thicker skin layer. This also reduces the tendency to develop cellulite.
Differences in Cellulite Distribution
Male pattern fat deposits tend to accumulate most frequently in the abdominal region and just above the waist, giving slightly overweight men their characteristic love handles and pot bellies. This accumulation of fat around the midsection gives overweight men a body shape this is characteristic of an apple, where the largest circumference occurs in the middle. Female pattern fat deposits appear on the hips, thighs and buttocks, giving slightly overweight women what is referred to as a pear shape, a fruit in which the largest diameter occurs toward the bottom.
Dieting to Eliminate Cellulite
Reducing body fat through diet and exercise are surefire ways to help get your cellulite under control. Eat plenty of whole fresh fruits and vegetables, and avoid all processed foods. Refined grains can cause inflammation and promote fat storage. Pasta, rice, breads and cereals should be avoided. Staying well hydrated will help your body flush fat as you lose weight. Endurance aerobic exercise like walking or jogging, high intensity interval training, and weight training will all help to reduce fat stores and eliminate the appearance of cellulite.
- "Exercise Science: Understanding and Evaluating Physical Fitness and Health"; Warren Rosenberg and Ciaran Cullen; 2008
- "Exercise and Cellulite"; The American Council on Exercise Fit Facts; 2006
A professor of allied health science and member of the American College of Sports Medicine, Warren Rosenberg has been writing since 1979 on topics including health and fitness. His works include the college textbooks "Exercise Science" and "Integrated Science." As a professional photographer, he provides photographs to textbook publishers, magazines and websites. He holds a Ph.D. from New York University.