Got a Minute? 7 Ways to Slim Down in 60 Seconds

Got a Minute? 7 Ways to Slim Down in 60 Seconds

Tiny tweaks that result in real weight loss.

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By Taylor Lupo

If you're time-crunched and looking to slim down, there's good news—you don’t have overhaul your eating or spend hours in the gym to shed pounds. Have a minute before work? Got a free moment after your lunch break? Sixty seconds are all you need to kick-start your weight loss. 

Matthew Metz, MD, a bariatric surgeon with Presbyterian/St. Luke’s Medical Center in Denver, Colorado, shares some simple steps to help you slim down—and they can each be done in a minute or less.

Make Smarter Drink Choices

2 / 8 Make Smarter Drink Choices

If you sip a latte at the start of your day or pop a can of cola to beat the mid-afternoon slump, you’re probably drinking more calories than you realize.

One 16-ounce whole milk latte contains 230 calories—close to the number of calories in a small meal. Instead, order a hot coffee with 1/4 cup of steamed nonfat milk. You’ll enjoy the same creamy taste, for just 25 calories.

If you’re a soda drinker, swap your daily can with a seltzer, and slash 140 calories. Better yet, drink good old H2O throughout the day. One study found an association between poor hydration and a higher body mass index (BMI), as well as greater rates of obesity. Those who stayed well-hydrated were more likely to possess a smaller waistline.

Another study suggests those who sip sugar-sweetened beverages, like soda and juice, before meals consumed more calories than those who opted for water. There’s more still: one small study of 84 of obese individuals found those who drank about 16 ounces—one standard bottle’s worth—of water 30 minutes prior to mealtime shed more pounds than those who didn’t.

Burn More Throughout the Day

3 / 8 Burn More Throughout the Day

The average American spends most wakeful hours sitting on the couch or at a desk. This can be bad for our health, and it doesn’t help us burn any calories, either.

“When you're sitting at your desk, stand up and do 10 squats or 30 squats, whatever you can. These can be done anywhere in the office,” Metz recommends. “Or, when you're going for a walk, stop and do 10 or 20 jumping jacks.”

Adding movement, even slow-paced walking, on your way to and from the office, and throughout the day can help you burn calories. In as few as 30 minutes, a 155-pound person can burn 150 calories—you’ll be surprised how quickly your one-minute intervals add up.  

Research suggests we should be sitting for no more than 30 minutes at a time, so twice an hour, get up and move. Can’t remember to get going? Set a reminder of your phone or computer.

Swap Your Sandwich Wraps

4 / 8 Swap Your Sandwich Wraps

Slashing calories from your diet is one proven way to shed pounds. Luckily, you don’t have to forfeit the foods you love—just make them healthier.

Instead of stacking your sandwich ingredients onto bread or inside a carb-heavy wrap, fold them into a fresh lettuce leaf. This swap takes no time at all and cuts calories and unhealthy carbohydrates. One average tortilla wrap contains 210 calories and 35 grams of carbohydrates. Two slices of whole wheat bread are loaded with 200 calories and 38 grams of carbs.   

Metz recommends wrapping a crunchy romaine leaf around your protein and veggie filling—a single leaf contains just 5 calories. Bibb and iceberg lettuce leaves also work well, and contain just 2 calories each.

This swap is a simple way to add more greens to your day, so munch away. 

Take a Minute to Unwind

5 / 8 Take a Minute to Unwind

Diet and exercise are important for weight loss, but getting a handle on your stress is essential as well. “Stress management is critical to maintaining a healthy weight,” says Metz. 

One 2017 study suggests a link between long-term stress and higher rates of obesity. Of the more than 2,500 men and women who participated in the study, those with the highest levels of cortisol, detected in tested hair samples, were heavier, had a higher BMI and larger waist circumference.    

There are easy ways to reduce day-to-day stress—in 60 seconds or less:

  • Breathe deeply
  • Close your eyes and meditate
  • Practice yoga—give child’s pose a try
  • Call a friend or family member
  • Have a good laugh

Not all stress if bad, but chronic stress can be. Speak with your healthcare provider about the best treatment options for you.  

Order an App Instead of an Entrée

6 / 8 Order an App Instead of an Entrée

Fast food joints get a bad rap, but full-service restaurants may be just as damaging to your diet. A 2016 study found that people ate about 190 calories more, on average, on days that they dined out. Plus, your average cholesterol and sodium consumption may be even higher at full-service restaurants than they are at fast food places.

While dining at home may be your best bet for weight loss, you can easily slash calories at an eatery by ordering an appetizer instead of an oversized entrée. For example, not including sides, a typical chicken parmesan dinner contains about 430 calories. Once you add a heaping serving of spaghetti, your dinner can total 1,000 or more.

An appetizer-sized plate of stuffed mushrooms, six medium-sized caps, contains fewer than 190 calories. Or, create your own low-calorie combo by pairing a side salad with a cup of broth-based soup, like chicken noodle, for a 145-calorie meal.

Unplug Before Bedtime

7 / 8 Unplug Before Bedtime

Believe it or not, sleep affects your weight. Research suggests too little slumber is linked to higher body weight and increased obesity risk.

Like too much stress, too little sleep increases cortisol levels, which causes the body to hold onto extra calories. Inadequate slumber also affects hormones, like those responsible for regulating hunger, meaning you may be hungrier than you’d be with adequate sleep. Exhaustion can make exercise less appealing, too, and up your desire for unhealthy foods.

There are things you can do to get better sleep. “I suggest stopping screen time at least two hours before going to bed, and if you're able to, put your phone in another room when you're sleeping,” Metz says.

You can also:

  • Avoid food and drinks that disrupt sleep.
  • Go to bed at the same time each night.
  • Use your bedroom for sleep and sex only, so you don’t associate the space with potentially stress-inducing activities—like work. 
Don't Skip Dessert

8 / 8 Don't Skip Dessert

You don’t have to deprive yourself of sweet treats, even if you’re trying to lose weight. In fact, eliminating your favorites may lead to binging, and can make eating well more difficult.

One study found people who ate a low-calorie diet six days a week, and indulged in unhealthy treats on the seventh, were happier than those who ate a moderate and consistent number of calories every day. The best part? Their weight loss results were nearly identical!  

If you can’t limit yourself to sweet treats every once in a while, Metz recommends swapping typically high-calorie desserts with fruit or nuts. Enjoy an apple with a tablespoon of sugar-free peanut, almond or cashew butter, or toss a tablespoon of sliced almonds in a cup of blueberries and add a sprinkle of cinnamon.