Fat is often confused with cellulite and the two are thought to be the same. However, fat is more about the accumulation of storage fat while cellulite is about the structure and appearance of the skin.
What Is Fat?
Fat is used as a primary source of energy and is essential for daily functioning of body cells. It makes up 3% of the body weight in men and 12% in women. Fat also forms a protective layer around internal organs like the liver, pancreas and stomach, which is called visceral fat. A larger waist and belly size are good indicators of visceral fat deposits.
The proximity of visceral fat to your liver boosts production of LDL cholesterol, that collects in the arteries and forms plaque. It increases a person’s risk to a range of ailments like heart disease, diabetes, stroke, kidney disease, respiratory conditions and other metabolic disorders.
Getting rid of visceral fat is not easy, but a controlled low-fat, low-calorie diet with optimal physical exercise and workouts can help shed excess fat and weight. The goal of getting rid of storage fat is to achieve a healthy body mass index (BMI) according to one’s height and age.1
Excess fat that accumulates beneath the skin, especially around the waist, thighs and buttocks is called subcutaneous fat. This is what causes jiggly skin but this fat is not as detrimental to health as visceral fat.
Is Cellulite Fat?
Cellulite is often confused with subcutaneous fat but they are not the same. In fact, cellulite is not fat at all, but a manifestation of fat. Women with layers of fat often experience cellulite streaks and folds on the skin. Cellulite is not really a cause for medical concern since it does not harm the body in any way.
The collagen fibers connecting subcutaneous fat to skin can stretch, break or tighten causing the stretch-like, rippled, dimpling appearance on the skin. Women often feel conscious about having cellulite marks on the skin, especially when wearing certain types of clothing like shorts or swimsuits.2
What Causes cellulite?
Cellulite does not have one single cause. There may be several causes and correlated factors. Some of the causes include:
- Genes – Our genes play a significant role in determining our body type, structure and appearance. So, if your mother and grandmother had cellulite, you have a greater disposition of having it too.
- Diet – A poor diet without balancing out proteins, vitamins and minerals can result in cellulite appearances.
- Metabolic rate – This implies a greater chances of cellulite appearances.
- Insufficient exercise – Those leading sedentary lifestyles are more prone to cellulite.
- Hormonal disorders – Some hormonal disorders which result in excess estrogen also cause cellulite appearances.
- Dehydration – Is said to cause several changes in the skin including appearance of cellulite.
Treatment For Cellulite
The media carries many advertisements for massages, creams and gels to get rid of cellulite. However, most of these products and treatments do not actually live up to their miraculous claims. There is hardly any scientific evidence to support such claims for cellulite treatment. In fact, some of these creams contain a chemical aminophylline (a prescription drug for asthma treatment) which can be harmful. It can trigger allergic reactions in some people and cause redness, itching and hives.
The surgical option liposuction actually removes fat from the body and not cellulite. While massages and spa treatments may relieve cellulite, the effect is temporary.
The safest option to take care of cellulite is a judicious mix of exercise, weight loss and a diet rich in fiber, vegetables and fruits.3