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"When you are a martial artist, you are a nut; you go to extremes to improve yourself as a martial artist. And one way is to eat only what your body requires and not get carried away with sensual [eating] pleasures."
Lee was renowned for his physical fitness and vigorous, dedicated fitness regimen to become as strong as he possibly could. After his match with Wong Jack Man in 1965, Lee changed his approach toward martial arts training. Lee felt that many martial artists of his time did not spend enough time on physical conditioning. Lee included all elements of total fitness—muscular strength, muscular endurance, cardiovascular endurance, and flexibility. He tried traditional bodybuilding techniques to build bulky muscles or mass. However, Lee was careful to admonish that mental and spiritual preparation was fundamental to the success of physical training in martial arts skills. In Tao of Jeet Kune Do, he wrote
According to Linda Lee Cadwell, soon after he moved to the United States, Lee started to take nutrition seriously and developed an interest in health foods, high-protein drinks and vitamin and mineral supplements. He later concluded that in order to achieve a high-performance body, one could not fuel it with a diet of junk food, and with "the wrong fuel" one's body would perform sluggishly or sloppily. Lee also avoided baked goods and refined flour, describing them as providing calories which did nothing for his body.
Training is one of the most neglected phases of athletics. Too much time is given to the development of skill and too little to the development of the individual for participation. ... JKD, ultimately is not a matter of petty techniques but of highly developed spirituality and physique.
Diet? Ratio of protein vs. carbs vs. healthy fats? How many meals a day and how many calories for each meal. & example of meal plans like his.
Lee was famous for his love of nutrition. He had found that in order to have a peak body in top form he must give up all types of junk foods. He maintained a highly nutritious diet void of dairy. He did later on use powdered milk in some of his smoothies which he created himself. Here are some of the things he did follow.
1. Eat Whole, Real FoodsThis was a big one, though not as much of a problem in the 1960s as it is now. Eat real foods.
Adele Davis was a prominent nutrition writer in the 1960s and '70s, and Linda Lee followed Davis's advice to eat real foods and, as a corollary, to avoid processed foods like bread and cake when preparing Bruce's meals.
This rule can be applied to Asian and Western foods easily these days. And it makes sense: eat food that's, well, food.
2. Eat A Variety of Food
Bruce had access to a rich variety of local foods, prepared in a variety of ways. This is especially true of Chinese cuisine, which has great depth and diversity owing to its geographic and ethnic range.
So, don't get stuck in a rut eating just a few 'super-healthy' foods. Variety gives you lots of different nutrients, as well as lots of fun.
3. Avoid Dairy, Flour, and SugarThis dovetails right along with the 'eat real foods' rule above. Refined sugar and flour products (white bread, rolls, cakes, cookies, etc.) are much more processed than fruits, veggies, and meat — so Bruce avoided them.
Bruce also didn't like dairy much. In particular, he didn't like cheese and wondered why so many westerners liked it.
However, these aren't hard and fast rules. Bruce liked milk in his tea and protein drinks, and enjoyed lots of Chinese noodle dishes.
4. Eat Protein and Carbs, Low on Fat
Eating this way gives you lots of carbohydrate sugars to fuel immediate activity. You also get protein to build your muscles.
5. Take SupplementsThe Bruce Lee diet includes a wide variety of supplements. Bruce always pushed the envelope with what his body could handle, and reasoned that giving himself additional supplements would support it.
The supplements Bruce took included…
- Vitamin C
- Bee Pollen
- Natural protein and natural protein tablets (chocolate-flavored)
- Wheat germ oil
- Natural vitamin E
Bruce also took traditional Chinese herbal supplements. He was particularly fond of royal jelly mixed with ginseng, which he used if he needed a sudden burst of energy.
6. Drink Fruit and Vegetable JuiceFruit and vegetable juices were an integral part of the Bruce Lee diet plan. He bought an electric juicer and would liquify carrots and green vegetables into highly nutritious carbohydrate- and nutrient- loaded beverages.
Your body absorbs liquids faster than solids, so Bruce was giving his body the fuel it needed in a very efficient manner. He also exercised intensely, so the high levels of sugar in these kinds of drinks were used to fuel his exercise.
7. Drink Protein Drinks
While Bruce never used an exact recipe, the regular ingredients in his protein drinks listed in The Art Of Expressing The Human Body include…
- Non-instant powdered milk
- Juice or water
- Ice cubes
- 2 Eggs
- 1 Tablespoon wheat germ or wheat germ oil
- 1 Tablespoon peanut butter
- 1 Tablespoon brewer's yeast
- Lecithin (grains)
Bruce also recommended half and half instead of milk to bulk up. However, he liked keeping his super lean appearance and only drank milk himself.
8. Drink TeaBruce was a big tea drinker. And since China has a truly large and bewildering variety of teas to choose from, there was a lot of variety for him to try.
His favorite tea was chrysanthemum, though he also liked milk tea (奶茶, nǎichá) that Linda made for him. This was a strongly steeped lipton black tea, with generous amounts of milk and sugar.
9. Eat Enough, But Not Too MuchBruce lee would eat several (3 to 5) small meals a day plus snacks, rather than several large meals.11 This was in line with the prevailing bodybuilding wisdom of the day, with the 6 meals a day diet plan.
10. Food Is FuelRather than a strict rule, this is the attitude that is the foundation for the Bruce Lee diet. Bruce regarded food as his fuel for exercise and doing martial arts, not as an indulgence or a sensual pleasure. You can see this in his ripped physique!
Look at your food the same way. Having dinner is not an event, but rather a necessary stop to refuel so that you have the energy for your real work.
11. Keep EvolvingThis is another insight into the logic of the Bruce Lee diet. Over the course of his life Bruce didn't follow all these rules, and he was constantly tinkering with his own diet plans, workouts, training routines, and martial arts ideas.
Try out these rules, and keep those that make sense to you. Discard those that don't work, and keep moving forward!
If you're still interested in Bruce Lee's nutrition and workouts, check out the book The Art Of Expressing The Human Body by John Little. This will give you a ton more nutrition, diet, and workout information to help you build your body.Remember that these Bruce Lee diet tips are a great resource, but your own progress, setbacks, and challenges — and how you handle them — will ultimately dictate your own progress.
1. Less and more often: He ate 4 or 5 meals a day and each meal was with small portions. He would snack on healthy food throughout the day, like fruit & nuts.
2. Avoid empty calories: He avoided pastries, breads and sweets. He preferred to have pasta, spaghetti and rice as his carbohydrates.
3. His favorite meals: He consumed fruit and green vegetables every day. He loved to eat eat Chinese or other Asian food. Some of Bruce Lee's favorite foods were Chinese beef in oyster sauce, tofu and steak and liver.
4. He was big into supplements: Vitamin C, Lecithin granules, bee pollen, Shilajit, Vitamin E, rose hips (liquid form), wheat germ oil, Acerola – C and B-Folia, and brewer's yeast.
5. He loved tea: He did drink tea daily with honey (Lipton) or a Chinese tea called Li-Cha. This is a black tea and made with milk and sugar. He felt tea drinkers had strong immune systems.
6. Ate a balanced diet: Your diet must me a combination of carbohydrates, proteins and fats. He felt the best sources of protein were milk, cheese, eggs, soybeans and nuts. Healthy fats are important to the body as well. Certain fatty acids are essential to life and can be found in peanut butter, egg yoke, avocados, Brazil nuts, mackeral, cheese and many more.
7. He drank royal honey and ginseng daily. He would drink this right before a high energy action scene. As Bruce said "I take a little Royal Jelly beforehand and Voom! My energy levels are perfect" He did drink green drinks, protein drinks and his own personal mixtures.
Lee’s phenomenal fitness allowed him to perform numerous exceptional physical feats:
- Lee’s speed in terms of reacting + punching from a distance of three feet away was determined to be around five hundreths of a second (0.05 second); from five feet away it was around eight hundreths of a second (0.08 second).
- Lee could take in one arm a 75 lb barbell from a standing position with the barbell held flush against his chest and slowly stick his arms out locking them, holding the barbell there for several seconds.
- In a speed demonstration, Lee could snatch a dime off a person’s open palm before they could close it, and leave a penny behind.
- Lee performed one-hand push-ups using only the thumb and index finger.
- Lee performed 50 reps of one-arm chin-ups.
- Lee could cause a 300-lb (136.08 kg) bag to fly towards and thump the ceiling with a sidekick.
- Lee held an elevated v-sit position for 30 minutes or longer.
NutritionAccording to Linda Lee Cadwell, soon after he moved to the United States, Lee started to take nutrition seriously and developed an interest in health foods, high-protein drinks and vitamin and mineral supplements. He later concluded that in order to achieve a high-performance body, one could not fuel it with a diet of junk food, and with “the wrong fuel” one’s body would perform sluggishly or sloppily.
Lee also avoided baked goods and refined flour, describing them as providing calories which did nothing for his body.
Lee consumed green vegetables and fruit every day. He always preferred to eat Chinese or other Asian food because he loved the variety that it had. Some of Lee’s favorite Chinese dishes were beef in oyster sauce, tofu and steak and liver. He also became a heavy advocate of dietary supplements, including Vitamin C, Lecithin granules, bee pollen, Shilajit, Vitamin E, rose hips (liquid form), wheat germ oil, Acerola – C and B-Folia.
Lee disliked dairy food although he felt that for building muscle he must consume milk. As a result he only ate dairy as part of cereals and protein drinks, usually using powdered milk instead of fresh milk. Lee’s diet included protein drinks; he always tried to consume one or two daily, but discontinued drinking them later on in his life. They typically included non-instant powdered milk which is reported to have a higher concentration of calcium than other forms of powdered milk, eggs, wheat germ, peanut butter, banana, brewers yeast for its B vitamins, and Inositol and Lecithin supplements. Linda Lee recalls Bruce Lee’s waist fluctuated between 26 and 28 inches (66 to 71 centimetres). “He also drank his own juice concoctions made from vegetables and fruits, apples, celery, carrots and so on, prepared in an electric blender”, she said.
According to Lee, the size of portions and number of meals were just as important. He would usually consume four or five smaller meals a day rather than a couple of large meals, and would boost his metabolism by eating small healthy snacks such as fruits throughout the day. Fruit and vegetables provided him with the richest source of carbohydrates; he was particularly keen on carrots which would make up one half of the contents of the drink, with the remaining being split between the other fruits and vegetables. The reason why Lee was so keen on juicing vegetables and fruits is that he believed it allowed the body to assimilate many nutrients more easily. The enzymes in the juiced vegetables acting as organic catalysts which increase the metabolism and absorption of nutrients. Given that most of these enzymes are destroyed when vegetables are cooked, Lee would try to consume them raw.
Lee often drank a royal jelly and ginseng drink as they contain B-complex vitamins, including a high concentration of vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) and vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), acetylcholine, hormones, and eighteen amino acids which allow for a quick energy boost. In traditional Chinese medicine, ginseng is also said to improve circulation, increase blood supply, allow quicker recovery times after exhaustion and stimulating the body. In addition, Lee regularly drank black tea, often with honey or with milk and sugar.