In this article, we’re going to show you exactly how you can reduce cellulite by going on a low-carb keto diet, plus other evidence-based strategies that help.
These are the same methods the author of this article used to deal with cellulite in her mid-20’s. She was at her heaviest and stuck in a cycle of unhealthy eating.
But here’s what you need to keep in mind:
There is no perfect quick fix for cellulite, not even conventional treatments such as liposuction, creams, and injections. At the end of the day, nothing can replace consistent healthy habits.
With those expectations in place, keep reading to learn about the causes of cellulite, how going keto can help, and the best foods and other strategies for cellulite reduction.
Cellulite affects 90% of women and only 10% of men, and it’s more common in women between ages 25-35[*]. It often develops in areas with more fat — in the thighs, buttocks, arms, and abdominal area.
Different factors contribute to cellulite. They include:
- Gender differences in collagen content: It’s no secret that we produce less collagen as we age and lose them at the same rate. But because men have thicker skin with more collagen, skin aging and cellulite may remain less evident. This is where supplementing with collagen peptides helps[*].
- Hormonal imbalances (low and high estrogen): Estrogen declines as women approach menopause. Low estrogen leads to decreased blood supply to the skin, reducing the quantity of collagen fibers[*]. Conversely, high estrogen promotes fat storage, which increases cellulite. This is common in women with excess body fat due to their diet, stress, or certain medications[*].
- Tight clothing: Wearing tight-fitting clothing regularly causes cellulite by impairing blood circulation to your skin[*]. Some believe that tight jeans or leggings can reduce the appearance of cellulite, but it does the opposite.
It’s also possible for some people to be genetically predisposed to cellulite. Certain lifestyle habits that trigger inflammation and damage your skin’s collagen play a role as well — basically most of what you already know is unhealthy, like drinking to excess or smoking, is a potential cause of cellulite formation[*].
Although you can’t eliminate cellulite, evidence suggests that you can significantly reduce its appearance by losing body fat through a ketogenic diet as part of a well-rounded regimen. Lowering carbs to 20-50 grams per day forces your body to tap into its fat stores for energy instead of glucose.
One study published in the Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology found that the keto diet may help with cellulite by increasing lipolysis or fat breakdown while improving fluid drainage[*].
A quick word about that study: the researchers also required study participants to exercise regularly and use a cosmetic cream, and they admit that this study design resulted in an “inability to determine and quantify how much of the cellulite reduction was due to each of the individual components of the treatment regimen (i.e., diet, exercise, or anti-cellulite cream).”
That being said, of course you should pursue cellulite reduction — or any health or fitness goal — from multiple angles. Keto is one great way to approach it, but exercise and other practices certainly have their place, too.
A healthy keto diet is also abundant in natural collagen-boosting foods, as well as plant foods containing phytoestrogens that support estrogen in aging women naturally. In other words, proper food selection on the keto diet may also help reduce the appearance of cellulite.
Here’s a list of food suggestions that fight cellulite through fat loss and proper nutrition. Stock up on these low-carb, whole options during your next trip to the grocery.
1. Bone Broth
Collagen is found in the cartilage and bones of animals, making bone broth an excellent source of collagen. Bone broth’s use can be traced back to our ancient ancestors who made use of every part of an animal.
It’s easy to make bone broth at home. Mix animal bones, some spices, and apple cider vinegar in a large pot. Bring to a boil, then simmer.
Bone broth also contains proline and glycine, amino acids that help maintain skin and connective tissue[*].
2. Fatty fish
Oily fish such as sardines, salmon, and mackerel help with cellulite, thanks to their large amounts of omega-3 fatty acids that support skin health[*]. There’s also evidence showing that these fatty acids may help reduce body fat[*].
Alternatively, you can take a purified omega-3 supplement if you don’t enjoy fish or are concerned about mercury levels.
3. Meat and dairy
Dairy and ruminant meat like cattle, sheep, and goat are conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) sources. CLA is a group of fatty acids that could potentially in weight loss by reducing the size of fat cells in your body, although current evidence is inconclusive[*].
Dairy products with the highest CLA concentrations include cow’s milk, butter, and sour cream. Just be cautious of your carb intake with milk. When it comes to meat, the best CLA sources are ground beef, veal, and lamb[*].
CLA aside, meat and dairy are also the best whole food sources of high-quality dietary protein[*]. Consuming plenty of protein helps support a healthy metabolism and feelings of fullness, so you really can’t go wrong increasing your intake of high-quality animal products if you want to burn more fat and reduce cellulite[*].
4. Cruciferous vegetables
Cauliflower, broccoli, brussels sprouts, and kale help your skin look healthier. They contain phytonutrients that protect the skin from UV damage[*].
As you may already know, UV exposure breaks down collagen fibers in your skin, worsening the appearance of cellulite.
Cruciferous vegetables are also low in calories and carbs, so they support your weight loss efforts.
5. Egg whites
Egg whites are a great addition to your fat loss plan for cellulite reduction. High in protein, egg whites increase satiety (feelings of fullness).
They also contain all nine essential amino acids like histidine, leucine, and lysine that promote tissue repair and skin health.
Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries are low-carb sources of vitamin C. This vitamin plays an important role in helping the body produce collagen. Plus, it offers protection against UV damage[*].
Here are some ideas to enjoy berries on a keto diet:
- Use them as salad toppings
- Make a low-carb berry jam
- Dip them in plain Greek yogurt
Almonds, hazelnuts, and macadamias are packed with skin-boosting micronutrients such as vitamin A, B, C, E, and zinc. In addition, their high protein and fiber content helps increase satiety and reduce hunger in between meals.
8. MCT oil
Medium-chain triglycerides or MCTs are especially beneficial for suppressing appetite and increasing weight loss[*]. If you’re looking to lose cellulite while on a keto diet, taking MCTs will help boost your results.
Try adding MCT oil powder to your coffee or adding it to your recipes. You can also get trace amounts of MCTs from foods like coconut meat, butter, and full-fat dairy products, but supplements are the best way to get a concentrated dose.
Avocados are particularly rich in monounsaturated fatty acids. These good fats reduce inflammation, protecting the skin from photoaging. Biotin or vitamin B7 in avocados also help in nourishing the skin.
This superfood is a must-have in your keto diet. Mash them for guacamole, mix them up with Perfect Keto’s grass-fed collagen powder for a delicious smoothie, or stuff them with eggs and bacon.
10. Green tea
Green tea has been shown to have anti-obesity effects, thanks to catechins in green tea that increase fat oxidation and energy expenditure[*].
As one of the best beverages you can have on the keto diet, a cup of green tea has zero carbs and 2.5 calories[*].
Approximately 96% water, cucumbers are a great option for staying hydrated. This keeps your skin strong and supple. One cup of sliced cucumbers also provides you with around 5% of your daily vitamin C needs, which is beneficial for collagen synthesis (and thus cellulite reduction)[*].
While sugar is not the main cause of cellulite, it plays a huge role in making it look worse. Here’s what excess sugar does:
It produces advanced glycation end products (AGEs), free radicals that damage collagen and affect skin elasticity. Fortunately, even if you overindulged in sugar in the past, studies have now shown that a strict control of blood sugar for months can reduce AGEs[*].
This is a big reason why the keto diet works so well — it requires you to cut back on sugar. So, in addition to eating the foods listed above, watch out for hidden sources of sugar like sauces and salad dressings.
If you need help with banishing sugar cravings, we also offer a free 7-day “no sugar” challenge. Learn the details and join for support here.
Yes. Collagen peptides, also called collagen protein powder, can help reduce the appearance of cellulite at any age. Supplementing extra collagen ensures that you get enough collagen on top of getting it from various keto-friendly foods.
In one study, women aged 24-50 years who were overweight or normal weight, with moderate cellulite, took 2.5 g of oral collagen peptides daily for over 6 months. The results showed a significant decrease of cellulite and skin waviness on the thighs of normal weight women. The treatment was also effective in overweight women, although the results were less pronounced[*].
Another study involving female subjects aged 35 years or older took 2.5 g of collagen peptides together with skin nutrients like acerola fruit extract, vitamin C, zinc, biotin, and vitamin E complex for 12 weeks. The results showed an improvement of skin hydration, elasticity, roughness, and density[*].
Perfect Keto offers a grass-fed collagen powder that delivers 10 grams of collagen in each serving. In addition, it has MCTs that support fat loss and increase energy, satiety, and focus.
No. In fact, a very low-carbohydrate keto diet does the opposite. It shrinks fat cells, so they no longer push outwards through the connective tissue in your skin, resulting in less visible cellulite.
Again, the more fat your body has, the more likely cellulite shows up. By eating fewer carbs (for most people, 30 grams or less of net carbs per day) and increasing fat, you train your body to rely on its own stored fat for fuel.
Staying off carbohydrates and sugar while getting most of your nutritional needs from protein and fat are highly effective practices for long-term weight management. And as we covered in previous sections of this article, there are a ton of keto-friendly foods that specifically help boost collagen such as bone broth, meat and dairy, and cruciferous vegetables.
Contrary to what some people might think, the answer is no — keto doesn’t cause your skin to sag. Sagging skin or loose skin usually happens in those who’ve lost a lot of weight very quickly.
As a person gains more weight, their skin stretches to accommodate their changing body size. However, the skin becomes less elastic over time as collagen and elastin fibers (which are necessary for healthy skin structure and elasticity) get damaged. Unfortunately, skin doesn’t immediately retract to its former, supple shape following rapid weight loss[*].
Also, do keep in mind that the amount of loose skin may vary from one person to another. On top of weight loss, other factors that come into play include age and lean muscle mass.
Unfortunately, loose skin is a factor that sometimes leads individuals to feel embarrassed by their appearance and experience inconveniences during physical activity, as revealed by one study[*].
Fortunately, there are some steps you can take to tighten loose skin or prevent it from the get-go.
First and foremost, make sure that you’re losing weight at a steady pace. This should give your body ample time to adjust. Second, incorporate strength training into your routine to help your body maintain a healthy balance of strength and lean muscle mass as you shed the pounds.
Finally, add more collagen to your diet by eating more collagen-boosting foods and supplementing with high-quality collagen peptides.
You may have heard from various sources out there that you can lose cellulite in a matter of days or weeks. But the truth is that it depends on the rate at which you lose weight — and healthy, sustainable weight loss takes time.
The average weight loss on keto ranges from 2-10 pounds in the first week and 1-2 pounds each week after that. However, everyone’s different, and as long as you’re moving in the right direction, it’s best to avoid stressing out over the timeline.
There are a few other things that minimize cellulite aside from following a ketogenic diet. Consider making these tiny changes that you can easily maintain as part of a healthy lifestyle:
- Exercise: High-intensity interval training (HIIT) and strength training are effective for reducing total body fat and increasing lean body mass [*][*]. Remember: less body fat and more lean mass equals less cellulite.
- Massage: Massage doesn’t just release that “feel-good” hormone oxytocin, but it also enhances skin blood flow and fluid drainage, improving the appearance of cellulite[*][*].
- Comfortable clothing: Avoid wearing tight clothes that interfere with your microcirculation and increase the risk of cellulite-forming[*].
- Staying hydrated: Not drinking enough water can weaken the skin, causing it to look wrinkled. This makes cellulite more apparent. For healthy individuals, the daily four-to-six cup rule is good to follow. But you might need more (as well as extra electrolytes), especially if you’re exercising a lot[*].
- Avoid habits that damage collagen: Poor sleep, too much sugar, excessive sun exposure, smoking, and stress could deplete your collagen reserves. Keep your skin looking great by steering clear of these bad habits.
While cellulite is harmless, it can affect one’s self-confidence. Thankfully, it can be reduced by going keto.
But, whether or not you follow the ketogenic diet, consuming more collagen can help to the appearance of cellulite. In fact, supplementing with collagen peptides would be a convenient way to add this protein to your diet.
Remember to stay active, avoid sugar, and drink enough water. Done consistently, these healthy habits will noticeably improve your skin.