Elvis Presley Weight Gain: The Icon’s Transformative Period


Elvis Presley is a globally famous icon of Rock and Roll but the King is being discussed more for his eating habits and lifestyle these days. Towards the end of his life, he put on a lot of pounds which surprised the fans and ultimately played a role in his untimely demise. Let’s find out everything about Elvis Presley’s weight gain story and explore why the King turned into ‘Fat Elvis’ in a short period.

Everyone knows that Elvis was a huge ‘foodie’ and loved eating his favorite foods, especially Southern ones. Restaurants around the world have named food items after him, and the ‘Elvis sandwich’ is a widely popular delicacy in eateries around the world. However, there were other factors involved in his weight gain.

It’s a renowned fact that Elvis Presley was struggling with obesity during his terminal years but there were also other underlying conditions. His family and friends, maid, and medical reports reveal the truth about his surprising weight gain that made Elvis Presley worried about his public appearance.

How Much Weight Did Elvis Presley Gain?

Elvis Presley started rising to fame in the 1950s and was known for his slim frame and good looks. However, the King of Rock and Roll started gaining weight later on. He was heavily criticized for his weight gain due to the era’s cultural stigma and social pressure. Elvis weighed around 170 pounds initially.

Due to his hectic lifestyle of touring, recording music, and making movies, he didn’t have a proper schedule and had unhealthy eating habits. He was also a big fan of food and consumed a lot of calories every day. This made him put on weight as his career proceeded. By the mid-1960s, ‘Fat Elvis’ was already in existence.

The increase in weight made Elvis worried about his appearance and he tried several shortcuts to lose weight. He also started suffering from a number of health issues including intestinal constipation, increased cholesterol, and depression to weighing more than intended. As time passed, his weight continued rising.

When Elvis Presley passed away in 1977, he was very different than the sex symbol he was during the peak years of his career. Some reports claim that he weighed around 350 pounds at the time of his death. However, the medical reports state he only weighed around 210 pounds but looked heavier due to excessive bloating.

Why Did Elvis Presley Gain Weight Rapidly?

Elvis Presley gained a lot of weight as his career progressed due to poor lifestyle, bad eating habits, depression, and other medical issues. However, a lot of people don’t know this but he wasn’t actually very fat. Instead, it was water retention that made him look swollen as revealed by his autopsy reports.

The King of Rock and Roll had most of his weight around his face, stomach, and hands due to the medications he used during the later phases of his life. If he was really fat, he would’ve gained weight all around his body. However, his buttocks were proof that he was more bloated than he was considered fat.

Elvis Presley weight gain

Some of the media outlets and magazines also captured pictures of Elvis Presley from such angles that he would look fat. This was done because people were interested in his weight gain and his criticism sold copies. Initially, his weight gain was linked with ‘Gluttony‘ but the truth was a bit different.

Elvis Presley had Unhealthy Eating Habits:

According to his maid Nancy Rooks, Elvis Presley had very unhealthy eating habits. He spent his mornings sleeping due to late-night shows and recordings and then had breakfast in the evening, around 5 PM. He also had his dinner very late, from around 12:30 AM to 1 AM, and didn’t refrain from eating a lot of calories.

The people close to him have revealed he consumed around 10,000 to 12,000 calories a day. It’s up to five times more than the recommended intake today. His meals included ‘Southern foods’ rich in fats and carbs. His long-term girlfriend Linda Thompson also revealed that Elvis loved to go out and eat.

The late rockstar’s cousin Billy Smith stated in an interview that he loved a bacon sandwich with mustard. He would also stack up tons of bacon with mustard and potatoes, and eat them all in one go. Alongside eating a lot of junk and fried food, Elvis was also a big fan of Pepsi, alcohol, and fizzy drinks.

Health Issues Made his Condition Worst:

Apart from unhealthy eating habits, Elvis Presley’s health issues and medications also played a significant role in the Rock and Roll icon being obese. Like many performers of the era, Elvis regularly consumed prescription medications including opiates, barbiturates, and sedatives and his toxicology report after death confirmed it.

Elvis also took steroid/cortisone injections to treat inflammation and intestinal constipation. Consequently, the drugs caused water retention in his body and made him appear swollen. The King was known to have a twisted colon, which we’d call a case of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) in today’s medical terms.

Elvis Presley weight gain

Due to this, he took amphetamines which led to chronic constipation and bloating. All of this led to a distended abdomen, which means ‘pot belly’ in layman’s language. Moreover, Elvis also suffered from eating disorders which led to him eating fatty and sugary items uncontrollably.

Elvis Presley was ‘Acutely Sensitive’ About Weight Gain:

Elvis Presley’s longtime partner also revealed that criticism bothered him and he was ‘acutely sensitive’ around his weight gain. He was aware of what people thought of him and their comments often hurt his feelings. So, Elvis tried some quick measures to lose weight but they didn’t work as expected.

According to The Independent, Elvis once tried a diet where he only ate jelly made of black cherry soda and bananas. He also tried sleeping pills that would keep him unconscious, so he’d eat less. Elvis even asked his doctors to try the ‘Sleeping Beauty’ diet where the patient is put in a medically induced coma to lose weight.

He even lost a good amount of weight through diet and other trimming methods but genetics weren’t on his side. A doctor revealed that his mother’s side of genes made Elvis gain back the lost weight quickly. His divorce from Priscilla Beaulieu also made the situation worse and weakened his resolve to get healthy.

How did Elvis Presley lose weight?

When Elvis Presley initially started gaining weight, he was conscious to lose it to maintain his slim figure which made him the globally famous sex symbol. He went on dieting and switched to healthier food items. His maid was the first person to motivate him to cut down on junk food, follow portion control, and eat less sugar.

This helped Elvis make a comeback to the screens on December 3, 1968, after an absence of more than eight years. However, the King couldn’t stick to his healthy habits. He also didn’t listen to anyone and did what he liked to do. This resulted in Elvis gaining more weight as the years progressed.

Elvis Presley weight loss

Eventually, Elvis Presley lost weight again a few years before his death due to underlying health conditions. He suffered from hypertension and an enlarged heart which affected his metabolism and overall well-being. However, this wasn’t evident from his appearance to the bloating caused by cortisone and other medications.

Final Take:

Elvis Presley was a rock icon but he was a man struggling with the social stigma of being fat behind the curtains. Back then, the King couldn’t find the support required to overcome his eating disorder. If he was alive in today’s era, Elvis Presley may have found more sustainable methods to control his weight gain.

Unfortunately, Presley died after suffering a heart attack at the age of 42 in 1977. Many credit his untimely death to his fondness for fatty and sugary foods. It’s true to an extent but the medications he took to overcome his underlying health conditions also played an equally significant role in his demise.

Nevertheless, Elvis ‘The King’ Presley has left enough for the Rock ‘N Roll fans to cherish. He’ll always be remembered as the icon and sex symbol that he was famous for. His story teaches us to support and take care of people around us at all times as we don’t know what they may be suffering from.

Frequently Answered Questions:

Here are the most frequently asked questions about Elvis Presley’s weight gain:

How tall was Elvis Presley?:

Elvis Presley stood at 182 cm, which is nearly six feet. His impressive height was one of the many reasons why so many women were crazy for the talented singer, actor, and entertainer.

What was Elvis Presley’s favorite food?:

Elvis Presley was a big fan of Southern-styled food and his favorite meals were fried chicken, ham, and bacon. He also loved eating mashed potatoes, cornbreads, grits, and rich gravy. The one standout meal that he frequently enjoyed was a peanut butter sandwich with crisp bacon and banana.

What is the ‘Elvis Sandwich’?:

The ‘Elvis Sandwich’ is widely popular around the globe and is readily available in numerous restaurants. It’s a peanut butter, banana, and bacon sandwich with honey and a lot of cheese. There are several variations of the recipe available these days but none of them would be considered healthy by nutritionists.

How did Elvis Presley die?:

Elvis Presley died on August 16, 1977, after suffering a heart attack. He was just 42 at the time of his death. The preliminary autopsy findings confirmed that Presley suffered cardiac arrhythmia in the bathroom of his Graceland mansion. He was found on the floor by his then-fiancée Ginger Alden who rushed him to the hospital. Unfortunately, he was pronounced dead at 15h30.

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