The legendary martial artist Bruce Lee would have celebrated his 75th birthday this month.
Famous for groundbreaking movies like Enter the Dragon and Fist of Fury, Lee was a serious bodybuilder and dedicated to his fitness, with his beliefs on nutrition still proving influential today 42 years after his tragically early death.
The ‘Bruce Lee Diet’ is still held up by many in martial arts as an ideal combination of food and diet habits. The rigid controls Lee put on himself, combined with a dedication to his art, ensured his body was in prime physical condition.
As the great man said: “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”
Cut out the ‘empty calories’
Lee referred to refined flour as ‘empty calories’. That meant he didn’t touch any baked goods such as biscuits, cakes and pastry and only consumed calories that could benefit his body in some way.
Eat Chinese food
While pasta was regularly on his menu, Lee felt Western food was bland in the main and as a result stuck to the Chinese food of his ancestry. Asian dishes put the emphasis on carbohydrates from rice and vegetables while Western food was all about protein and fat. His favourite dish was beef in oyster sauce.
Eat less more frequently
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. Eating large amounts of food at a time causes the body’s metabolism to slow down, resulting in the excess calories being stored as fat. Eating smaller portions means 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.
Drink Royal jelly and ginseng
Lee would often talk about how drinking royal jelly (said to be made from the honey of the queen bee) would give him a quick boost before filming. 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. An ancient Chinese remedy, ginseng was thought to promote ‘Yang’ energy as well as improving circulation and blood supply.
Take protein supplements
Lee would consume two protein drinks a day, mixing in eggs, wheat germ, peanut butter, bananas, brewers yeast and granular lechitin. Vitamin and mineral supplements were also on the menu.
Lee drank a huge variety of different teas which he would sometimes mix with honey. Tea contains many anti-oxidants and has certain substances that can increase the body’s immune system dramatically. Lee’s favourite kind of teas were Lipton or a Chinese tea called Li-Cha. Tea is an excellent way of hydrating the body and also improves bodily functions.
Lee was a remarkable athlete and there’s no doubt his diet contributed massively to his physical condition. In 1970, he badly injured his back, causing damage to the sacral nerve. Doctors told him he would never fight again but to the surprise of his health advisor, Lee made an incredible recovery. He strongly believed that this would never have been achieved if it was not for his fantastic physical attributes which he would never have had without ‘The Bruce Lee Diet’.