Elvis and fitness aren’t necessarily two things you’d associate, given the King’s noted penchant for hi-cal delights such as the ‘fool’s gold loaf’ (a hollowed-out white loaf filled with bacon, butter, grape jelly and peanut butter) and outrageously decadent burgers.
While Elvis always liked his grub, he also knew he had to look good – and so he employed an array of increasingly barmy techniques to slim down before public appearances.
Of course, we wouldn’t advocate taking the same approach to fitness as a man who lost his battle with the bulge in such a tragic fashion, but Elvis Presley’s diets and workouts provide a fascinating insight into this man of legendary extremes all the same…
When Elvis became a karate master
Elvis was mad for karate. In fact, during his Vegas days he incorporated numerous nifty moves into his performances, and wore a karate-inspired black robe on stage.
But this wasn’t a fleeting fad. He’d got into martial arts during his spell in the army, achieving black-belt level. (That said, many karate pros are sceptical as to how much this honour was genuinely deserved.)
Karate wasn’t an entirely benign influence on his life, though – his wife Priscilla ended up ditching him for their shared instructor, Mike Stone, in 1975.
When Elvis played badminton
The King was big on badminton too – in fact, he built himself a court to play it in the picturesque grounds of his Graceland mansion. Err, but it was basically a big concrete building with no windows or natural light.
Still. Close enough.
When Elvis ate nothing but fizzy-pop jelly for weeks
Shasta is a brand of fizzy pop from America that comes in a variety of flavours. When Elvis knew he had to slim down, he used to live on jelly made out of the stuff – black-cherry flavour was his favourite – and he’d eat it with sliced-up bananas, for weeks on end.
His cook would construct a giant, wobbling pyramid of it and bring it to Elvis at his behest several times a day. Not exactly what you’d call a ‘balanced diet’, but it was low in calories.
When Elvis played football
As a card-carrying good ol’ boy from Mississippi, Elvis liked nothing more than tossing the pigskin about. Being the most famous man on the planet meant that he palled around in rarefied company, and would often play a spot of American football with NFL pros.
And, being The King, he’d always insist on playing as a quarterback – the toughest and most glorious position of them all – no matter who he was up against, or how ridiculously massive and gnarly they were.
When Elvis put himself into a coma to lose weight
Probably the most shocking measure that Elvis went to in order to trim down was employ a quack Las Vegas doctor’s so-called Sleeping Beauty Diet during the ’70s.
This entailed being put in a medically induced coma for several days in order to (ahem) “sleep the weight off”.
Mercifully, Elvis didn’t last too long on this particular high-stakes regime and, in a moment of low slapstick, fell out of his hospital bed and woke himself up. He promptly vowed never to comatose himself again…