Tackle Tummy Fat: Best Foods and Exercises to Decrease Belly Fat and Foods to Purge from Your Paleo Diet

“How do I lose weight ‘here’?” is probably one of the most common questions clients have asked me over the years.


Even before I knew what the Paleo diet consisted of and was training clients in the low-fat era of the 90s, people have been looking for ways to ‘spot reduce’ areas of their body that don’t look the way they’d like them to.


And within those troublesome areas, belly fat, right along with ‘matronly’ upper arms, ‘love handles’ or ‘muffin tops’ and ‘saddlebags’ top the chart as the body parts that most clients I’ve worked with report being highly dissatisfied with in terms of their appearance.


Then, we add to the equation the fact that there are so many different types and shapes of bodies – which begs the question, how much can we actually do about it?


If all the women in your family are pear shaped, does that mean you’re doomed to feel a bit too heavy in the thighs and bum for the rest of your life?


And what about that flat stomach you’re after?  If your mom and grandmother have put on a few pounds and are appearing a little bit as though they’re expecting, will that be your fate, too?


Not to worry.  You can take matters into your own hands!


While there is no magic cream you can massage into your stomach to decrease fat cells nor is there a way to do extra leg lifts to slim down your thighs, what you can do is decrease your overall percentage of body fat, both though exercise and a Paleo diet.


To the surprise of many, however, it’s not a 50-50 equation when it comes to diet and exercise, respectively.  In fact, it’s not even 60 – 40.  In my experience it’s probably more like 80 – 20.


In other words, when we talk about how we look, what we eat weighs heavier on the scale than how much you’re training, pun intended.


It’s a grand misconception.  People tend to think that going to the gym for a 45 minute bout on the elliptical creates enough of a deficit to warrant the need for a sports drink or energy bar… in addition to the meal they’ll be having when they get home.


Or that pre-fueling for all activity is necessary instead of training the body to become more efficient at using fat as its fuel.


Erroneous advice runs rampant online and there’s no doubt that options are plentiful if you’re looking for a pill to swallow, a cream to apply or a magic method to minimizing fat in a certain area.


Here’s the deal: there’s no magic.


If you eat real, true Paleo food and move in some capacity, that’s your ticket to long term, sustainable success.


Why does this work?


  • Since Paleo eating is inherently an anti-inflammatory, low sugar, no refined-carbohydrate, balanced manner of eating, your blood sugar will stabilize, improving your sensitivity to insulin and allowing you to become a better fat burning.


  • Also, since you’re eating more good fat versus what the USDA recommends, you’ll feel more satiated at meals leaving you less likely to experience a blood sugar crash which often presents itself as a feeling of ‘needing something sweet’.


  • Finally, since it’s not a calorie-restrictive, deprivation diet, it’s something you can follow long term and continue along the path to steady weight loss, which is easily maintained when your goal is achieved.


In terms of best exercise?


That’s easy- it’s the one you’ll do!


While I love being a Paleo Ironman, I’m certainly not expecting everyone to share the love of going long.  I do feel it’s important to bring this up, however, for no other reason than to illustrate that eating this way does, in fact, support endurance training on a high level.


There are some basics to factor in, though:


  • Get your whole body moving, and don’t forget your core. Most people sit too much.  One of my favorite articles, Sitting is the Root of All Evil, addresses what happens over time if we engage in too much of it!   Find an exercise regime that allows you to open up tight hip flexors, internally rotated shoulders, strengthen weak abdominals and a stiff low back.



  • Set a goal and make it a fun one. Got fifty pounds to lose? That’s a great goal – but add something to make it fun, too, such as signing up for a first walk/run 5K


  • Get others involved to keep you on track. The more, the merrier.. and the more accountable!


Remember, there’s no magic bullet, but with time and focus, you’ll get that body you’ve been wanting and you’ll do it in a method that you can stick with forever!