The original Bruce Lee Diet article, by Jon Wade
Bruce Lee is famous for his devotion to martial arts and his great abilities in this field. He was not only an exceptional martial artist, but also a serious bodybuilder. He firmly believed that diet and nutrition played a very important role in achieving his objectives. However, he was not an expert in nutrition, he gained most of his information from bodybuilding magazines and experimented with different supplements in addition to eating a well balanced healthy diet. For Bruce Lee a good diet was one that provided him with the energy and nutrients to maximize his physical training.
The following diet rules are based on what is known about Bruce Lee’s daily eating regime. There are many references to “The Bruce Lee Diet”, but really such a diet simply attempts to replicate Bruce Lee’s dietary and eating patterns, as well as his fitness regimes, to try to attain a physique similar to that of Bruce Lee. Bruce Lee’s diet and exercise regime meant that he had close to zero percent body fat. Following this diet regime could help you to lose weight as well as improve muscular growth.
Bruce Lee Diet Rule 1: Avoid Refined Flour
Generally Bruce Lee avoided refined flour. So, he did not eat many baked foods such as biscuits and cakes, which he described as being “empty calories“. It is worth mentioning that today many people attribute irritable bowel syndrome to the excess consumption of refined flours. His philosophy was not to consume calories that did not provide some benefit to the body.
This approach to eating is very similar to that of the Buddhist scriptures, which states:
“You must learn to be moderate in eating, and eat only enough to remain healthy, and fit for trance. For excessive food obstructs the flow of the breath as it goes in and out, induces lassitude (lack of vitality), sleepiness, and kills all valour. As too much food has unfortunate consequences, also starvation does not lead to efficiency. For starvation drains away the body’s volume, lustre, firmness, performance and strength. You should take food in accordance with your individual capacity, neither too much nor, from pride, too little.” From Buddhist Scriptures (amazon.com), edited by Edward Conze (1959).
Bruce Lee Diet Rule 2: Chinese Food
Bruce Lee enjoyed Chinese food, as he felt that western food was often too bland. Some of his favourite Chinese dishes were beef in oyster sauce and tofu. However, he loved to eat steak and liver too, but overall preferred the more balanced approach of Asian dishes. He felt that often Western food placed too much emphasis on protein and fat and not enough on carbohydrates from vegetables, rice, pasta etc.
Bruce Lee Diet Rule 3: Avoid Dairy Food
Bruce Lee did not like dairy food, and only ate dairy as part of protein drinks, usually using powdered milk instead of fresh milk. This rule only helps to reduce total energy intake. Calcium from dairy has been found to help reduce the amount of fat that is digested (see Weight Loss Tip 7).
Bruce Lee Diet Rule 4: Smaller Portions and More Meals
For Bruce Lee concentration on the type of foods eaten were not the only important consideration, the size of portions and number of meals were just as important. Bruce Lee would usually consume four or five smaller meals a day rather than a couple of large meals, plus some healthy snacks such as fruits.
Today bodybuilders often follow similar eating habits, eating high protein meals approximately every four hours to ensure the body has a good supply of proteins to help build and repair muscle tissue. Eating more often than every four hours can put too much pressure on the digestive system, leading to indigestion. This is another reason why constant snacking is not good for you.
Bruce Lee Diet Rule 5: Drink Protein Drinks
Bruce Lee consumed one or two protein drinks every day, plus fruit smoothies too. Although his protein drinks varied, they generally consisted of:
- Non-instant powdered milk – which is reported to have a higher concentration of calcium than other forms of powdered milk
- Eggs – sometimes with the shells
- Wheat germ / wheat germ oil
- Peanut butter
- Brewers yeast (contains concentrated B vitamins, which are essential in the release of energy from carbohydrates).
- Inositol supplement (Inositol is found in many foods, particularly in cereals with high bran content. Inositol plays an important part in the health of cell membrane, in particular the specialized cells in the brain, bone marrow, eyes and intestines. The function of the cell membrane is to regulate the contents of the cell, which makes effective functioning of the cell possible).
- Lecithin – taken in granular form. (Lecithin is a mixture of glycolipids, triglycerides, and phospholipids. It is needed by every cell in the body and is a key building block of cell membranes; without it, they would harden. Lecithin protects cells from oxidation).
All ingredients would be mixed thoroughly in a food blender. Bruce Lee suggested that for better results (i.e. for gaining more muscle mass quicker) milk and cream can be added too.
Please bear in mind that the supplements Bruce Lee took were popular when he was researching bodybuilding during the 1960’s and early 1970’s, these supplements may now be superseded by new ones producing better results. Also bear in mind that all supplements may have side effects if taken to excess. It is best to check with your doctor/GP before starting a bodybuilding diet.
Bruce Lee Diet Rule 6: Take Dietary Supplements
Bruce Lee also took many mineral and vitamin supplements. Today there is a much greater variety of supplements on offer than there were when Bruce Lee was training. Knowledge about how different supplements interact and benefit us has advanced a great deal since the 1960’s, as a result there may be better and more efficient supplements available than the ones listed below. However, here are some of the supplements Bruce Lee is known to have taken:
- Vitamin C
- Lecithing granules
- Bee Pollen
- Vitamin E
- Rose hips (liquid form)
- Wheat germ oil
- Natural protein tablets (chocolate flavour)
- Acerola – C
Bruce Lee Diet Rule 7: Increase Carbohydrates by Juicing and Blending
Bruce Lee knew that carbohydrates are essential for people with very high activity levels. It was for this that he regularly consumed fresh fruit and vegetable smoothies. Fruit and vegetables provide the richest source of carbohydrates, so Bruce Lee would often make juices/smoothies comprising of carrots, celery, apples, bananas and some parsley.
Usually carrots would make up one half of the contents of the drink, the remaining being split between the other fruits and vegetables. He also sometimes used green leafy vegetables, again with a large proportion of carrot juice to help offset the bitterness of the green leafy vegetables. Bruce Lee was ahead of his time hear, as these are the basic rules applied in our articles on weight loss today.
Juicing fresh fruit and vegetables is a great way to consume high quality carbohydrates. Juicing allows the body to assimilate many nutrients more easily. The enzymes in the juiced vegetables are also organic catalysts that increase the rate at which food is broken down and absorbed.
Many enzymes are destroyed when vegetables are cooked, especially if boiled, therefore consuming raw fruit and vegetables is best. Some nutritionists suggest that for better health and more energy, approximately half of the carbohydrates consumed should come from raw fruit and vegetables.
Bruce Lee Diet Rule 8: Eat Honey and Ginseng
Bruce Lee often drank a Royal jelly and ginseng drink to give him a quick boost. These drinks are very small, and provide a very quick release of energy. Royal jelly contains B-complex vitamins, including a high concentration of vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) and vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), acetylcholine, hormones, and eighteen amino acids. It also contains trace of many minerals, trace amounts of vitamin C, some enzymes, as well as antibacterial and antibiotic components. Contrary to claims by many of those promoting its use, vitamins A, D, and E are completely absent from royal jelly.
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Ginseng promotes Yang energy, improves circulation, increases blood supply, revitalizes and aids recovery from weakness after illness, and stimulates the body.
Bruce Lee Diet: Sample Meals
Obviously Bruce Lee’s diet would have varied greatly during the 1960’s and early 1970’s as his training methods evolved, but here is what is possibly one of his typical days meals:
- Food: A bowl of muesli cereal, comprised of whole grains, nuts, and dried fruits, plus 2% milk (semi skimmed).
- Beverage: Orange Juice and/or tea.
- Juice or Protein Drink: Protein powder, non-instant powdered milk made with water or juice, eggs, wheat germ, bananas, peanut butter. Brewer’s yeast was frequently added.
- Food: Meat, vegetables, and rice.
- Beverage: Tea.
- Juice or Protein Drink: see ingredients for morning-snack protein drink.
- Food: Spaghetti and salad, or another meal of rice, vegetables, and meat, chicken, or seafood.
- Beverage: One glass of 2% milk and/or tea.
- The Art of Expressing the Human Body by Bruce Lee and John R. Little. Tuttle Publishing. 1998. ISBN-10: 0804831297. (available from Amazon.com)
More Information on Bruce Lee
- Bruce Lee Workouts
- Jeet Kune Do Training and Skills
- Bruce Lee dieta – Ver versão portuguesa
89 Comments on “The Bruce Lee Diet – Bruce Lee’s Diet and Nutrition”
Bruce Lee was always evolving. We know this about his Jeet Kune Do, his personal philosophy and apparently it was true of his diet too. In his later years, he became vegetarian – that is the Bruce Lee his daughter knows. She has stated he avoided meat and told her to be meatless also. She stated this on a British TV show a few years ago.
If he avoided refined flour then why did he eat pasta?
What kind of pasta was it? Because there is pasta today made out of white flour.
how can i replace meat in lunch by a vegetarian food?
Eggs, cottage cheese, tofu, pulses, nuts, seeds – all good sources of protein.
but i don’t eat egg what can i do?
Eat all the other items listed.
hi, i am trying to get in shape as well and i was just wondering do you know what time bruce ate all of his meals? and also is it okay for me to train my abs everyday i’m 17 and weigh 143. thank you for any answers.
Hi Nino, no idea what time he ate, I suspect at normal times, 7-9am, 12-1pm, 5-7pm. You can train abs daily if you like, but you can also increase resistance and train them every other day, giving a rest / recovery day.
oh! thank you! one more question, sorry for bothering you haha. so if i eat breakfast, do i wait 4 hours before taking a protein drink? and do you know like when is a good time in the day to work out? thank you so much for answering.
When you take your protein drink is largely dependent on they type of protein and when you exercise. If you have whey protein, take that immediately after your workout. If casein based, then any time really, morning or before bed.
As for a good time to workout – the best time is the time that you enjoy the most. Simple as that. I hate early mornings, so always workout in the evenings. Some people love morning workouts. It really makes little difference.
Um, you do know that Bruce Lee died incredibly young, right?
Lee’s death has been shrouded in mystery, but the general cause is that he took a NSAID, and he reacted to it very strongly and died. Yet he had taken this drug before. The clearest reason for his death was that his body fat was down to 1-3%, and the morbidly low bodyfat screwed up his metabolism so that he could not properly process the NSAID. In short, Bruce Lee starved himself and overworked himself to death. I would not follow his training/diet regime. He would have lived longer if he’d spent his days smoking and eating Ho-Ho’s.
Yes, we know that he died young. If his death was shrouded in mystery how can you be so sure of its cause?
The general thought is that equagesic (a drug of aspirin, meprobamate and sometimes ethoheptazine and now discontinued due to its severe side effects) was the cause of death. As far as his training and use of nutrition are concerned, he was years ahead of his time.
Lots of athletes have low body fat – this is not a direct cause of death for anybody.
hi which protein drink is the best for a martial artist ?
Take whey, especially after long and intensive workouts to help reduce muscle wastage. Make sure your diet is good though, this is really most important.
Thank you for the post.
Could anyone please tell me what B-Folia is???
I cannot find any useful information through google.
Good question Ali. Something we did research when the article was written, but we came to no conclusion.
The best guess is that it refers to a vitamin B supplement extracted from various leaves (folia). It could also have been a brand of folic acid supplement, vitamin B9 is folic acid and folate combined, and is essential to healthy body function.
Yeah, Just follow DR. Fuhrman’s book and advice along with Bruce Lee’s Diet plan and you will lose weight incredibly fast!
I’m disappointed that he did eat meat but it doesn’t influence a change in my diet. I don’t eat meat because I feel better and lighter, more spry and great energy. I’m very healthy and happy with my diet. I’ve been a vegetarian for over 20 yrs.
hi, i m 26 & i have become FAT since 3 years please tell me some effective diet & exercise to loose weight please!!!!
Hi Ameya, start with daily exercises, with circuit training, weight training or steady cardio each day. Eat a lean and balanced diet. See our fitness and diet sections for more information.
you are post is nice but is that cheinese are available here….??? If u can post how to make them
Sorry Raj, no Chinese version here. Maybe Google Translate or Microsoft can help?
Most people forget that each person is different and what works for one person might not be the best for another. Just eat what your instincts are telling you and try not to brainwash yourself with everything you see, read and hear. Choose fresh and organic and don’t over eat!
What if your instincts are telling you to eat lard and chips? I get your point though!
What a pile of BS. If he ate all that crap… No wonder he died in this early age… Oh my GOD…. this is just unbelievable… Only and only food for human being is raw and alkaline food. That is all you have to know. Food as nature made it! Raw and alkaline.
Raw and alkaline? Sorry, but that is nonsense. We have been cooking food for a very long time, to suggest we go back to eating berries and leaves is a little unrealistic. And alkaline? How do you chose alkaline foods in the first place, without a Wikipedia page listing them?
Some acidic foods: plums, cranberries, blueberries, eggs, lentils, corn, olives, pecans, walnuts, peanuts, cashews and pistachios.
Sorry, but explain exactly why these foods are bad. And are you suggesting that Bruce Lee would have got even better results if he had avoided them?
Well I’m not exactly over weight but i would like to lose some..and have more energy. I was wondering what exercise should i start with first, does it matter. I ride my bike on a regular basis but it’s not enough,I do however feel energetic after exercising,but it only last a little. I’m also doing my research not just going into this blindly. Any suggestions or advice.
P.S. Your article helped a lot, Thanks great job.
Hi Mar, read a lot. Exercise is important, but for good health, good diet is probably more important. Get your diet right then worry about exercise after. Most people will stop exercising at some point in their lives but healthy eating must last throughout.
Thank you !
I’m curious about Bruce Lee’s alcohol consumption. I am guessing he considered beer detrimental to his fitness efforts? Or did he have some leniency??!!
Not sure Sarah. It if safe to say that he was not a big drinker, but he may have enjoyed the odd beer or other drink. Actually, I just did a little research before hitting reply ….
Following an advert by Johnnie Walker (2013), which was criticised by Bruce Lee fans, Shannon Lee responded by saying: “My father did not drink, that’s true…[he] did not have a problem with people who drink occasionally…He was never knocking drinks out of people’s hands if they were having an enjoyable time…”
So, it seems that he did not drink at all. But you never know, maybe he enjoyed a cool beer on his birthday? Here’ a photo of Bruce having a beer – although judging by the positioning of the bottles, it was a marketing shot!
The photo, found on Reddit, says “Bruce Lee, taking a sip of beer Presidente during his visit to Dominican Republic. 1971” So sounds very much like a marketing photo – he probably did not head straight to the bar!
A lot of the above is somewhat off the mark. Bruce didn’t often have small meals. That is something Schwarzenegger pioneered. He would eat large meals. He could eat, eat and eat for hours. He would often sit down for a long time to eat. He had a problem of maintaining his weight. He would burn so many calories. All his students mention this in various books including Danny Inosanto in “The Art and Philosophy of Bruce Lee”. He loved noodles Asian and Italian. He loved spaghetti as Linda used to make him often. She would make it often in Hong Kong and complain that the spices were wrong there. So he had flour based foods. He was a pioneer about peanut butter ice cream protein shakes. Peanut flour was part of the recipe. Milk and ice cream were definitely part of his diet. Yes he did love beef with oyster sauce. He would have a soda or two a day as directer Robert Clause noted. Soft drinks were also listed as consumed during his last day in his autopsy report. He ate a lot of seaweed. In fact his doctor told him to cut back on it as his iodine levels were very high during the filming of Enter the Dragon. He ate a lot of weird animal parts which is normal in Hong Kong/China. He was American and sometimes ate american foods like burgers… but in general he did stick to Asian dishes. Duh, he was Chinese. One of the keys was he ate more protein than much of his Chinese counterparts. That was the American side to him. He knew he needed a dense caloric food source as his metabolism was through the roof. At the end of the day Bruce could eat anything he wanted to. He was always at a calorie deficit. His diet was colorful and not boring as modern body builders with broccoli and chicken breast.
In this particular picture Bruce Lee is actually not drinking acoholic beer, but alcoholfree maltbeer. You can see it on the colour of the drink he is enjoying in the foto. It is black. Cerveza Presidente has never been dark, since dominicans do not use to drink dark beer. For sure the bottle in the front side of the picture ist Presidente beer with alcohol, but he is surely drinkin the non-alcoholic version called Malta Morena. As it has already been said, this must be for marketing reasons, since the dominican brewery payed for some expences of the advertisings for the innauguration of John Rhees Tae Kwon Do school there, who came personally to Dominican Republic accompained by Bruce Lee for this purpose. Next to Bruce Lee is the dominican film commissioner Ellis Perez and next to Perez you can see the left shoulder of the father of american Tae Kwon Do, John Rhee.
How can you tell it’s John Rhee just from his shoulder? You may be right though!
400 gram of raw minced meat and 6 raw eggs was a breakfast i´ve read he had at times.
Dang..Bruce Lee in the DR enjoying a Presidente..priceless!
The article states Bruce was against eating refined flour but he loved eating both western and Asian noodles. Western noodles/spaghetti is made with refined flour, especially in Hong Kong. A few areas in China use rice to make noodles. Maybe he ate those? It be interesting to know the recipe his wife often used for spaghetti (not the sauce).
This diet Is it correct or not? , various websites has written differently! Which is correct ?
Yes, we carried out research and read numerous texts that Bruce wrote.