The truth about the Bruce Lee Diet

Bruce Lee's name is synonymous with martial arts. His lightning-fast moves such as the one-inch punch are the stuff of legend, and despite his comparatively lithe frame, he was as strong as they come. Sure, we're not 100 percent certain of his actual fighting ability, seeing as his only official fight was a boxing match he fought at the age of 18. (He won, of course.) Then again, we do know that Chuck Norris – a legitimate Karate champion, a borderline unbeatable full-contact fighter and a real-life sparring partner of Lee — considers the Dragon his peer and artfully dodges questions about which of the two martial arts legends would win in a real fight. So, if Bruce Lee being Bruce Lee isn't enough, there's also the fact that he comes with the official Chuck Norris seal of approval. Let's just accept that as evidence of Lee's magnitude in the martial arts books, yes? No one wants to invoke punitive surprise roundhouse kicks from Walker, Texas Ranger

It's obvious that Lee trained rigorously to become the ultimate kicking machine we all know and love, but as anyone who has even passingly glanced at a dumbbell can attest, diet is a huge part of training. What on earth, then, could Bruce Lee have possibly have eaten? What kind of diet could supplement the kind of training Bruce Lee went through, while helping him maintain his absurdly low-fat and muscular gymnast build? Here's the truth about the "Bruce Lee Diet."

The different accounts of the 'Bruce Lee Diet'

No one gets as fit as Bruce Lee was without paying at least some attention to what they eat, and seeing as he was pretty much the ultimate martial arts specimen, many people have attempted to reconstruct the specifics of his calorie intake. As such, there are many versions of the "Bruce Lee Diet" making rounds online. 

According to Motley Health, Lee saw baked goods such as cakes as "empty calories," and tended to avoid refined flours as a result. He also stayed away from dairy, preferred Chinese food for its taste and balanced ingredients and, much like modern bodybuilders, ate several small meals a day. Insure 4 Sports also mentions that Lee's go-to drink was tea — either Lipton or a Chinese blend called Li-Cha, for those taking notes.

On the other hand, Bruce Lee Training explicitly mentions that Lee's diet allowed him to eat pretty much whatever, that he was a huge fan of protein, and that his portion sizes were sometimes so huge that when he went to restaurants he tended to have two plates.

Bruce Lee's diet was all about common sense

The seemingly contradictory accounts of the "Bruce Lee Diet" may or may not be entirely accurate, but they also might not be quite as at odds with each other as it may seem. As the Bruce Lee official website tells us, Lee indeed watched what he ate quite carefully, and he liked to experiment with nutrition as well as other parts of his fitness regime. However, even though he didn't use alcohol, smoke, or drink coffee, he wasn't into abstaining. If he really felt like having something, he had no qualms about eating it, because at the end of the day Bruce Lee believed in one, simple dietary rule: "Eat what your body requires, and don't get carried away with foods that don't benefit you." Besides, thanks to his rigorous training, he spent such giant amounts of energy on a daily basis that it didn't exactly destroy his six-pack if he treated himself to a nice steak on occasion. 

Bruce Lee? More like 'Juice' Lee

One notable facet of Bruce Lee's diet was that he reportedly loved his drinkable snacks. He owned a commercial juicer, which was an extremely rare gadget for the 1960s, and used the thing often. According to CNN, he was even known to blend himself a nice drink of raw hamburger meat.

Lee enjoyed experimenting with foodstuffs, to the point that there was a period when he was super into offal because of its nutritional value. However, the one consistent part of his diet was always his juices and protein smoothies — which would make him fit right in with most of today's fitness enthusiasts, come to think of it. 

Ever aware of the nutritional value of drinks, Lee was known to spike even his tea with assorted supplements, such as royal jelly and ginseng. 

Bruce Lee and weed

As mentioned earlier, Bruce Lee tended to shy away from things like alcohol, tobacco, and coffee. However, there's another common psychoactive substance that his diet was significantly more relaxed about. As CNN notes, Lee was quite fond of cannabis, and didn't think twice about lighting a joint after a training session. Later, he presumably remembered his "no smoking" policy and started carrying bags of hash around, treating the substance like edibles. When asked about his liberal attitude about this particularly substance, Lee merely stated: "It raises the consciousness level."