For those who aren’t familiar with Bruce Lee, he was an iconic man. Among his inspirational achievements, his physique and nutritional expertise has made the bruce lee diet a coveted piece of information.
He was a legendary, and essential piece of movie history, Asian history, Asian American history, and martial arts history.
He had a deep understanding of nutrition and how it influenced his training and well being. Bruce Lee developed a highly efficient diet that allowed him to foster a 6-8% body fat percentage.
Who was Bruce Lee?
Lee Jun Fan, also known commonly as Bruce Lee was a Hong Kong American martial artist, actor, director, philosopher among many other things!
He has founded a philosophy of hybrid martial arts that collects mixed combat disciplines and at times will be given credit for creating the road to the development of today’s MMA.
An incredible influential human being, he represented the connection between Asia and America and was one of the first Asian pop icons in both the United States and Asia.
He played a significant part in the way Asians are played and respected in American movies.
He was raised on the Kowloon side of Hong Kong even though he was first born in San Francisco. He returned to the US pursuing his college degree in Seattle.
He is largely responsible for the rapidly increased interest of Americans to Chinese martial arts, something that was completely unprecedented.
He had a very successful yet unfortunately short-acting and directing career, yet is remembered in the movie industry for 5 groundbreaking martial arts movies.
If you guys haven’t seen any of them, we highly recommend you go watch any of them, he was an absolute master at his craft and his movies are evergreen or timeless.
Bruce Lee sadly passed at the young age of 32.
While his death was filled with rumors and controversy the official autopsy claimed that complications with a painkiller he was taking for a long time and a headache medicine caused him to have a sudden death.
How was Bruce Lee in such good shape?
Bruce Lee’s physical appearance is one of his most famous aspects. Apart from his fantastic acting, directing and performances in the martial arts space he was in incredible physical shape.
His famous physique has been made into statues all across the world, the most famous one in Hong Kong, his hometown.
Bruce was very much ahead of his time in a variety of aspects. In terms of his physical capabilities, he was one of the first few martial arts experts to believe in bodybuilding.
In that sense, Lee was one of the first martial arts icons to work on his body through strength training.
Most people that grew up in his world in his time, didn’t agree with weight training as they thought the size you would pack on would only slow you down and wouldn’t be beneficial at all for a fighter.
Bruce Lee developed an incredibly muscular and lean physique that made his body easily recognizable even to this day.
Lee had an incredible work ethic, and this was applied to his nutrition, his training, and his work.
Being extremely dedicated to his workouts and his martial arts training Bruce Lee burned plenty of calories and was very careful with what he put into his body.
Ideally, anybody that is in a caloric deficit will be able to lose weight. The hard thing is making sure that you are in a caloric deficit to reduce the fat content of your body.
Making sure that you aren’t eating highly caloric foods throughout the day is a basic part of losing weight. This is especially true at night when our body’s metabolism slows down as it’s preparing to go to bed.
It is also true that having a balanced diet, as well as working out intensely will eventually lead you to lose weight and get leaner.
Bruce Lee took this ideology to the fullest extent. He was extremely focused on getting the most out of his workout and supplemented his workouts with a powerful and efficient diet.
What most people forget is that nutrition will most likely play the largest part in your success in terms of strength training and bodybuilding.
For someone trying to pack on size, making sure that you’re eating at a caloric surplus will be the easiest way for you to gain strength and at the same time size.
The Bruce Lee diet was very calculated and he had a very healthy relationship with food to the point that he knew exactly what he needed to put into his body to perform at an optimal level.
What was Bruce Lee’s Diet?
The Bruce Lee Diet was compromised by specific diet principles instead of a strict diet. He focused on eating foods that were beneficial for his body and wouldn’t indulge in something if it wasn’t necessarily healthy for him.
The truth of the matter is that there is no specific “Bruce Lee Diet”. Bruce was always trying out new things to see what would fit correctly in his life or not.
This is a simple principle that we should all be applying to our lives. Eat what is good for us and not what we feel like eating at the moment.
Ask yourself before you eat something whether it will benefit your body nutritionally or will it simply add empty calories that you will have to forcefully burn later.
At times sticking to a rigid diet can be extremely restricting and can be hard to stick to in the long-term.
Learning principles and basic keys to nutrition could be more applicable to everyone’s day to day life.
What were his Principles?
- Stay away from empty calories
Empty calories are most foods that don’t bring much nutritional value to our bodies. These foods mostly made up of oils, fats, sugars, or alcohol.
While these will supply your body with energy for it to function, your body won’t be able to break down or absorb any vitamins or nutrients from them.
The Bruce Lee diet also tries to avoid consumption of refined flour. He was not often seen eating sugary baked goods such as biscuits and cakes. He would also stay away from sweet snacks like candy.
Unfortunately, when we compare with the standard American diet of today these foods are staples of American cuisine and most will consume these on a daily basis.
Bruce would not completely avoid carbohydrates at all though. He would fuel his diet heavily with carbs to give him energy for his extensive daily workouts and training.
Not all carbs are the same and are broken down in the same way. Lee would often be seen eating large amounts of rice and carbohydrate intensive vegetables.
It is also important to realize that Bruce Lee didn’t drink any alcohol. We often overlook the number of empty calories that can be found in alcohol and how easy it is to gain weight from alcohol.
Even reducing the amount of alcohol from your diet will show significant improvements in your physical shape over time.
2. Avoid Dairy
Bruce Lee was not a fan of food with dairy in it and didn’t understand how Americans consumed so much of it daily. He would specifically be known to avoid cheese.
While there are mixed sources that claim he ate ice cream and occasionally drank milk, it is known that his consumption of dairy was lower than the standard American diet.
This is something that we can easily apply to our lives. There are a variety of negative effects that come with dairy.
We recommend doing more research on it to see if swapping dairy with some substitutes would make sense in your day to day life.
3. Bruce Lee would mostly eat Chinese Food
It was clear that his vision of American food was quite limited and boring. He would often prefer to lean on Chinese meals to fuel the large majority of his diet.
His favorite food was known to be tofu with beef in oyster sauce, even though he would also often eat liver and steak dishes.
Bruce would often be critical of the lack of balance in the American diet and would comment on the unnecessary emphasis that they put on fats and proteins.
When we consider Chinese cuisine it is an astonishingly different type of cooking and nutrition. Most Chinese cuisine is balanced and will always include some form of a portion of protein, carbohydrates, and vegetables.
This allows for a more nutritious meal that would provide more efficient energy break down for Lee instead of piling on protein and fats which are harder and slower to break down.
In comparison to the American diet, the Chinese diet is relatively more balanced and provides a more nutritious outcome for someone trying to maximize his athletic performance.
4. Up to 5 smaller meals a day
Given the amount of energy that Bruce was expending every day, he wasn’t too focused on counting the calories he was consuming. He knew exactly the amount of food he needed to eat and would eat when he was hungry.
As a result of his continuously busy schedule, he replaced 3 large meals that most have with 5 smaller meals. This would mean that he was lighter for his training and could quickly finish his meal to continue his day.
It is reported that smaller meals may help improve levels of insulin in the body.
Eating smaller meals also helps people reduce the amount of overeating. If someone knows that they are eating every 3 hours, they won’t stuff themselves every time they sit for a meal.
This principle in the Bruce Lee diet is perhaps more adapted to someone who is as active as he was.
For someone that isn’t as active as Bruce Lee having 5 small meals a day could lead to overeating simply because of the fact that you aren’t burning enough calories in a day.
As always we suggest trying things out to see if they fit with your life and your current health situation! Let us know in the comments if you tried it out.
5. Protein Shakes for muscle growth & recovery
According to brucelee.com Bruce would often drink protein shakes and would make juices from a commercial juicer that they possessed in his house.
Bruce would often consume up to two protein drinks every day and would add vegetables and fruits to his protein drinks to make have a meal with the full nutritional spectrum available.
A common juice and vegetable smoothie that he would take would be composed of parsley, bananas, apples, carrots, and celery. This is a fantastic way to consume a great number of carbohydrates and natural sugars.
His vision and understanding of nutrition more than 50 years ago show how ahead of his time he was. This also shows how the Bruce Lee diet is timeless.
These are all things that we are doing today and what is easily recommended to anyone trying to lose weight or to stay in shape.
His protein drinks would often be composed of foods such as peanut butter, bananas, eggs, inositol & lecithin (more on these later), wheat germ oil, and brewers yeast.
Let’s break down some of the things he used to regularly add to his protein shakes to further understand how his nutrition influenced his training.
Brewers yeast is known as a nutritional supplement.
It is rich in chromium which allows your body to regulate blood sugar levels. It also includes a healthy dose of Vitamin B and helps your digestive tract.
Wheat germ oil that is commonly extracted from the wheat kernel is known for its anti-aging properties. It contains one of the highest sources of Vitamin E of any food commercially available.
Inositol is a supplement that is known to play an essential roll in the development and health of a cell membrane. This can be found in our intestine, bone marrow, eyes, and brain specialized cells.
Finally, Lecithin is another essential element of cell membranes and prevents general oxidation within cells.
Bruce would mix all of these ingredients in a food blender/juicer with other fruits and vegetables for his extremely healthy daily protein shake.
To completely understand the dedication and work ethic that Bruce Lee we just have to understand what he was eating a little better.
Wanting to pursue his nutrition to such an extent and making sure that he was only consuming all the best possible ingredients to improve his athletic capability, shows incredible passion and work ethic.
Luckily we can learn from him and use the Bruce Lee diet to lead healthier lives.
Once again Bruce was ahead of his time, thinking of all the supplements that he could add to his protein shake that would improve his performance. Something that is commonly done today.
6. Add supplements to your diet
Lee wasn’t only obsessed with optimizing his protein shakes, he would also make sure that he included other dietary supplements to his already optimized diet.
There are a variety of supplements that Bruce took in the 60’s that many people today would benefit greatly from.
Some of the supplements he took included common things like Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and Bee Pollen.
Then there are the supplements that we previously mentioned that he added to his protein shakes.
We must consider them separately as he wouldn’t always put it in a protein shake and would consume it in a different way.
These include Lecithin and wheat germ oil.
The supplements that we had not heard of yet but that he would use commonly include nutritional boosters such as Acerola C, B Folic acid, and Rosehips.
Acerola C is not an extremely common supplement, however, it is used to treat vitamin C deficiency. We’re sure that Bruce would only take it to prevent being deficient in Vitamin C.
Folic acid is a type of Vitamin B that is soluble in water. It is a synthetic alternative to the naturally occurring Vitamin B.
Much like other supplements Lee was taking, it played an essential part in the development of DNA.
Finally, Rosehips is another alternative to Acerola C due to its high content of Vitamin C. It is known to help boost the immune system and was probably one of the reasons Bruce would take this supplement.
It’s clear that Bruce Lee wanted to have the highest level of control possible in his fitness.
He wanted to make sure that everything was optimized enough that his training would never suffer because of a lack of proficient nutrition.
7. Get proper rest
When most people think about getting in decent physical shape the first thing they often think is about their new gym membership they’re gonna invest in.
Next, they might consider the importance of nutrition and making sure that they cut down on junk food. Improving their diet is the next thought they have.
Most people rarely consider sleep as an essential factor in your physical fitness. Unfortunately, this is a massively underrated aspect of any physical training regiment.
Making sure that you are getting enough rest every night is absolutely crucial.
Having a routine down where you know exactly what time you go to bed and what time you wake up will create greater stability for your body to develop physically.
Giving it the right amount of time to rest and recover will allow your muscles to be ready for training the following time you go to the gym.
Not giving your body the rest it needs will prevent it from proper recovery and will only increase injury proneness as well as continuous exhaustion that will show up in your performance in the gym.
Bruce Lee was extremely aware of this, and was “a big proponent of getting enough sleep (8 hours a night)“.
This allowed him to be fully rested every morning even given his extremely busy days between acting, directing and training.
This is an essential part of the bruce lee diet that often gets overlooked.
Adding a consistent amount of sleep every night after training and a balanced diet will have significant effects on your fitness and general health over time.
8. Drinking Tea with Ginseng & Royal Jelly
Bruce Lee was a great proponent of drinking Tea much like most of Asia. In a variety of Asian cuisines, it is common to have a glass of warm tea with every meal and often after a meal.
When we consider why this is such a great idea it might shock some readers. In the US, we’re very used to getting water (usually with ice) with every meal.
There are theories that comment on the fact that drinking cold water with a meal might be bad for our health in the long-term.
Because of the temperature of the water our stomach will contract and will have a harder time digesting food right after consuming a meal.
Because of the temperature of warm water, we do not contract our stomachs and it is easier to digest food after we’ve eaten it.
Regardless of its temperature benefits for digestion, there are plenty of benefits to drinking tea regularly. Green tea is supposed to help with weight loss as it helps your body speed up your metabolism.
Black Tea has a long list of benefits that include anti-oxidant properties which help remove toxic cells from our bodies.
Additionally, it has been credited with lowering the risk of stroke, lowering blood pressure, apart from being cheap and readily available for anyone!
Adding tea or warm water to your life won’t only aid you in digestion but will also be a fantastic replacement for sugary sodas & juices.
What’s incredible about Bruce Lee is that he also added ginseng and royal jelly.
Ginseng is a herb that is often used to help treat stress, stimulate the immune system and even for men who are treated for sexual dysfunction.
Royal Jelly is a fantastic supplement that we should all look into taking in our day to day lives. It is taken from the secretion of honey bees and is used to feed larvae, as well as adult bees.
There is an extensive list of benefits you can have from royal jelly, among them, we have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.
Additionally, it is known for reducing bad cholesterol, improves skin elasticity with anti-aging properties and regulating blood sugar.
Here is a complete list of all the properties of this incredible supplement. It is important to know that this supplement is more on the pricey side of all of the supplements he took.
We can now understand why Bruce Lee was in such amazing shape. A non-stop development of his diet to make sure that it fits perfectly with his lifestyle and his training.
The Bruce Lee diet showed obsessive passion for making sure that he only fed himself things that were nutritious would develop a world-class athlete that had between a 6-8% body fat percentage.
Full eating day – Bruce Lee
Bruce Lee’s diet was an essential part of his success both as a director/actor and as a world-renowned martial artist.
Lee’s typical day eating could be seen as something along with the following. For breakfast, he would have some type of whole grain perhaps a bowl of muesli with dried fruits.
He would often drink some type of juice or tea with his first meal in the mornings.
Lee would usually have a caloric snack composed of some type of juice or protein drink. These would include the supplements listed above, making for an extremely nutritious mid-day snack/meal.
For lunch, he would often eat some type of balanced meal and was usually made up of Chinese food. Having a healthy amount of vegetables, meat and rice would be his typical lunch.
He would wash everything down with warm tea as we found out before that it actually aids in digestion.
He would usually have a second protein or juice type drink in the afternoon.
A different combination of foods that he used before or would simply replace it with some type of protein bar depending on the amount of available time he had.
Lee’s body would be completed filled up with nutrients and vitamins throughout the day along with powerful supplements that helped his immune system, his skin elasticity, and overall general health.
Finally, for dinner, he would have another meal that included some type of variation of protein, vegetables, and carbohydrates.
A different assortment of meat, possibly fish and another variation of vegetables.
Bruce Lee’s diet wasn’t anything out of the ordinary. Perhaps the most the thing that sticks out the most is his fruit juices and protein shake with all his supplements.
Nonetheless, these are all items that we can get our hands on relatively inexpensively. There are definitely a variety of things that we can take from Bruce Lee’s regimented diet style and apply it to ours.
Should I try the Bruce Lee Diet?
These questions always depend on a large number of factors. What type of diet do you currently have? What are your fitness goals? Are you trying to lose weight? Do you have any dietary restrictions?
Unfortunately, we have a hard time recommending things here at HealthFitMag. We feel more comfortable informing you on a specific subject and allowing you to make your own decisions.
However, while completely switching to his diet isn’t that perhaps everyone should be doing, learning from his principles is something we should.
Reducing the number of empty calories will have an extremely significant effect on anyone’s physique. Quitting alcohol for a month, along with sweets and other sugary snacks will instantly be beneficial for your health.
Being conscious of what we choose to consume and realizing that everything we put in our bodies will in some way or another affect us.
Understanding the balance in nutrition that is necessary for our bodies to thrive. Not putting too much of one nutritional category in our body but realizing that it is a healthy mix of everything that allows us to be healthy.
Preventing overeating, and realizing that our stomachs take 20 minutes to comprehend the amount of food we’ve eaten. Eating slower, and even perhaps having smaller meals more often throughout the day.
It’s true that perhaps the exact Bruce Lee diet isn’t for everyone’s lifestyle and that’s alright.
The most important thing is how much he respected his body and as a result of the choices, he made to make sure that he treated his diet to properly fuel him.
This is a similar mentality that a lot of top athletes have. We recently wrote a similar post about David Goggins’ diet that highlights a mentality that is very alike to Bruce’s.
We hope this post was informative and has helped you shift your mind a little in terms of nutrition and will help you make better food choices if you aren’t already.
Bruce Lee was a Hong Kong American martial artist, actor, director, philosopher among many other things!
Bruce Lee was around 6-8% body fat.
Bruce Lee trained avidly and had strict nutrition principles that helped him foster great physical fitness.
Bruce Lee’s Diet was compromised by specific diet principles instead of a strict diet. He focused on eating foods that were beneficial for his body and wouldn’t indulge in something if it wasn’t necessarily healthy for him.
1. Stay away from empty calories
2. Avoid Dairy
3. Eat mostly Chinese Food (His comfort food)
4. Eat up to 5 smaller meals a day, instead of 3 big ones
5. Take protein shakes for muscle growth and recovery
6. Supplement your diet with natural supplements
7. Get proper rest
8. Drink Tea (add Royal Jelly & Ginseng)
Brewers yeast, Lecithin, Wheat Germ oil, Inositol, Royal Jelly, Ginseng among many others!
It depends! While his diet might not be applicable to everyone’s diet, his principles and balanced relationship with food is applicable.
Develop a balanced diet, have a healthy relationship with food and stay active and your health will improve over time.
We’ve added a bonus video of Bruce Lee in action. He was an inspiration to all of us and will forever be an essential icon from his time. We hope the video inspires you as much as it inspires us!