The Bruce Lee Diet
On analysis of Bruce Lee's body, if you didn't know who he was, you would be forgiven for thinking he was a nutritional expert. In fact he was. Bruce Lee was devoted not only to Martial Arts but also his body. Always wanting to perform at his highest potential, Bruce had rigid controls on his diet which gave him prime physical conditioning. It is obvious just looking at the legend that Bruce was in excellent physical condition and it was once said by someone who met him that "touching his body was like hitting Mahogany". Although Bruce trained his body to it's peak performance at all times, he was only able to achieve this, as stated by himself because of his attitude towards his diet. There are many references made to 'The Bruce Lee Diet' however, this is a term used which only names the patterns and regimes of Bruce Lee's food and diet habits. These regimes are of no secret with Bruce openly discussing them in his books and in documentaries. This article puts together the key and relevant information that you may wish to bring into your diet.
Bruce Lee food
Bruce Lee - "When you are a Martial Artist, you only eat what you require and do not get carried away with foods that do not benefit you as a Martial Artist"
Bruce Lee Diet Rule #1 - Avoid empty calories
By empty calories, Bruce meant refined flour - describing this as calories as doing absolutely nothing beneficial to the human body. Such calories are often found in biscuits, cakes and most notably pastry. Linda Lee (Bruce's widow) said: "he didn't eat a lot of baked goods, primarily because they were made from refined flour and contained nothing but empty calories. He had no interest in consuming calories that would do nothing for his body". Pasta, spaghetti and rice were what Bruce considered to be his most valuable sources of carbohydrates.
Bruce Lee Diet Rule #2 - Less, more frequent
Smaller portions of food more frequently can prevent your metabolism slowing and in turn help prevent the body from turning those calories into fat. Eating large amounts of food at a time cause the bodies metabolism to slow down and this results in the excess calories being stored as fat. Eating portions of lower volume means that the excess calories per meal are less and it also means that you can eat more often. Eating more often will train the body into knowing that it does not need to store the calories, again preventing fat deposition. However it is important that you combine eating more often with less portions, otherwise benefits gained will be minimised. Linda Lee stated that "he would eat up to 5 meals a day but didn't eat large portions" - this would also help him fit in his workouts without having a heavy stomach.
Bruce Lee Diet Rule #3 - Honey and Ginseng
His favourite drink for energy was 'Royal Jelly' (a drink apparently comprised of honey of the Queen Bees) mixed with Ginseng. He would often take this drink on set as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar recalled that he would open them during breaks between filming 'The Game of Death'. The reason for this drink was because it would give him a quick source of energy, rather than having to rely on slow releasing carbohydrates constantly which can make oneself tired upon consuming. As Bruce said "I take a little Royal Jelly beforehand and Voom! My energy levels are perfect".
Bruce Lee Diet Rule #4 - Balance your diet
Although this is a broad term, what Bruce meant was to ensure that you consume not only carbohydrates, but a good level of protein, fats and vitamin rich food too. Protein is an essential substance found in many foods, however most people consume way less than the recommended daily consumption. For people attempting to gain muscle and strength, 1g of protein is recommended per pound of body weight. The best sources of protein are eggs, milk, cheese, soy beans, nuts and quorn. Fats should also not be neglected and is vital for the human body, possessing many potential benefits. However it is important the correct type of fats are consumed. Certain fatty acids are absolutely essential to life and can be found in egg yoke, peanut butter, avocados, Brazil nuts, mackerel, cheese and many more.
Bruce Lee Diet Rule #5 - Drink Tea
Bruce would drink tea every day, sometimes mixing honey with it. Tea contains many anti-oxidants and has certain substances that can increase the bodies immune system dramatically. It is a common fact that people who drink more tea have a stronger immune system. His favourite kind of tea's were Lipton (mixed with honey) or a Chinese tea called Li-Cha. This is a black tea and should be mixed with a small amount of milk and sugar. Tea is an excellent way of hydrating the body along with giving it essential ingredients to improve many bodily functions. Bruce drank hundreds of types of tea's and was his favourite beverage.
Bruce Lee Diet Rule #6 - Supplements
Supplements were part of his diet, as being essential for the muscle building side. Most commonly he would consume two protein drinks a day. Along with the protein powder, other ingredients he would mix into the drinks included eggs, non-instant powdered milk, wheat germ, peanut butter, bananas, brewers yeast, inositol and granular lechitin. He also took regular vitamin and mineral supplements.
Any fans of this Martial Arts hero will know that he suffered a serious back injury which temporarily paralysed part of his lower body. He was told by doctors he would never fight again. However so the surprise of his health advisor Bruce made an incredible recovery and it is believed that this would never have been achieved if it was not for his fantastic physical attributes which he would never have had without what we call today - 'The Bruce Lee Diet'.
Some believe that Lee's strict healthy diet played a role in ensuring he achieved a taller height than expected of 5 foot 7.5. Although this seems short by today's standard, it is in fact taller than average for his generation, ethnic background and parent's heights. See How Tall Was Bruce Lee.
For more Bruce Lee Diet Tips
Bruce wrote extensively about his diet and fitness regime in his books, in particular The Art of Expressing the Human Body goes into great detail.
I highly recommend buying this if you interested in understanding his nutrition and fitness regimes. It's not just for martial artists.