Are you wondering about the Bruce Lee diet and supplement stack that helped him get ripped for his movies while providing him the energy to train like a savage?
In this article, we’ll look at the Bruce Lee diet in full, going through the principles of his diet and what it was optimized for, followed by a closer look at the food, drinks, and supplements he ate and used.
Most of Bruce Lee’s diet was revealed in his book, The Art of Expressing the Human Body.
What Was Bruce Lee’s Diet?
In short, Bruce Lee’s diet consisted of 4 to 5 small meals each day, with plenty of meats and protein shakes for protein, tonnes of vegetables, plenty of fruits, and carbohydrates such as rice and noodles for energy, and various supplements to cover all of his nutritional needs.
Bruce Lee’s Diet followed some key principles:
- 4 to 5 small meals daily
- High amounts of protein
- Tonnes of vegetables
- Daily fruits – often between meals as a snack
- Supplements for protein and covering all nutritional bases
- At least 1 gallon of water per day (3.7 to 4.5 liters)
- Limited amount of dairy products
- Limited amount of junk foods and ‘useless carbohydrates’ like refined flour and sugar
While Bruce Lee’s diet followed the above principles, he didn’t follow a strict calorie count and generally ate what he wanted.
And while it’s unknown how many daily calories Bruce Lee ate, with his physique and body fat levels, it’s likely his daily maintenance was around 2,000 calories.
But with his morning runs and intense training regimen, Bruce Lee burned tonnes of calories, which likely pushed his daily maintenance to 2,800 to 3,000 calories; meaning he needed to eat a lot of food to maintain his weight.
Bruce Lee’s diet was designed for his martial arts movies. It allowed him to strip his body fat and get extremely ripped for maximum aesthetics, as well as have optimal speed, flexibility, agility, and energy for fighting and performance.
And while he wasn’t the most muscular, Bruce Lee’s diet made him appear very muscular because his body fat percentage was very low, fluctuating between 6 to 8% and making his muscles and jawline pop.
In his late teens and early 20s, Bruce Lee’s diet increased in calories to build muscle mass until he was around 160 lbs at his heaviest.
He then cut his calories to around -500 per day to drop body fat and achieve the ripped body everyone knows him for. His average weight was between 134 to 140 lbs during his movie career from 23 to 32 years old.
Bruce Lee drank at least a gallon of water per day to ensure he was hydrated. This was the minimum he needed because he was sweating a lot during workouts.
How many meals did Bruce Lee eat per day?
Bruce Lee ate 4 or 5 smaller meals per day because it’s better for digestion, boosts metabolism, provides optimal energy for workouts, and helped him avoid overeating.
Eating large meals causes bloatedness and sluggishness, which is something he wanted to avoid to perform at his best.
So now we know the principles of Bruce Lee’s diet and what it was optimized for, let’s take a closer look at what he ate.
Bruce Lee Diet: Protein
To build and maintain the lean muscle mass he had, Bruce Lee’s diet was full of meats such as chicken, pork, and beef for their high protein content. He also ate plenty of tofu and fish such as shrimp and salmon.
Bruce Lee also consumed protein by eating organ meats such as liver, heart, and kidney. These also provided Bruce Lee with b-vitamins, iron, and zinc – many of the nutrients he was lacking due to limited dairy consumption.
He also got a lot of protein by drinking two protein shakes every day. He would increase their protein content by adding raw eggs, peanut butter, non-instant powdered milk, and plenty of vegetables.
Protein shakes were a convenient way for Bruce Lee to get extra protein in his diet during his extremely busy lifestyle of martial arts training, cardio (long runs), bag work, weight training, traveling, and acting.
Eating a lot of protein each day also helped Bruce Lee recover quicker for his next workout and kept him feeling full and energized for his workouts until his next meal.
Bruce Lee Diet: Carbohydrates
Bruce Lee’s diet required plenty of carbohydrates because he worked out many times a day and they’re the body’s optimal source of energy.
Bruce Lee’s workouts were also highly glycolytic, meaning they rely on carbohydrates to fuel activity. A high amount of carbohydrates keep blood sugar levels and glycogen levels high which are essential for optimal performance.
Some of the carbohydrates in Lee’s diet were:
- Potatoes (both sweet and otherwise)
- Muesli (oats)
- Vegetables – especially corn, carrots, and green leafy vegetables
Bruce Lee got most of his carbohydrates by eating Chinese dishes which mostly had rice or noodles with tonnes of vegetables, and he would often eat salads.
He ate as many vegetables as possible. This gave him great energy and optimal nutrition while keeping him feeling full throughout the day. This helped him achieve a daily calorie deficit to become as ripped as he was.
In between meals and training sessions, Bruce Lee would eat fruits such as bananas and apples to keep himself energized. He also enjoyed a glass of orange juice with his breakfast to fuel his morning runs.
However, Lee consumed a whole lot of fruits and vegetables by blending them into a protein shake. He liked to blend them because they’re more easily digested and it’s an easier way to eat a lot of vegetables.
Lee’s favorite vegetable was carrots, often making up 50 percent of his juices.
On the days Bruce Lee didn’t train with heavy weights or burn as many calories, he ate fewer carbohydrates from sources like pasta or rice because his body didn’t need the energy. This helped him keep his body fat extremely low.
For the most part, Bruce Lee avoided sugary or refined carbohydrates because he wanted to eat carbohydrate sources that best aided his training performance and health.
Bruce Lee Diet: Fats
Fats in Bruce Lee’s diet came from meat, fish, eggs, peanut butter, wheat germ, nuts, seeds, and avocados.
The non-animal products were responsible for providing Bruce Lee with healthier fats like polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats.
Healthy fats are essential in providing energy for a martial artist as well as regulating hormones such as testosterone. They also increase the body’s efficiency in absorbing nutrients and vitamins.
Bruce Lee Diet: Supplements
The main supplements Bruce Lee’s diet included were as follows.
- Packaging May Vary – New look, with the same trusted…
- GOLD STANDARD 100% WHEY BLEND – 24g blended protein…
- OVER 5G OF BCAAS – help build lean and strong muscles…
Protein shakes were the most important supplement in Bruce Lee’s diet because his intense training required high amounts of daily protein consumption.
Lee whipped up his protein shakes with peanut butter, eggs, brewers yeast, honey, bananas, various vegetables, and many of the other supplements listed below such as ginseng and royal jelly.
Bruce Lee’s favorite drink was tea, either Lipton black tea or a Chinese blend called Li-Cha with honey or a little sugar.
Bruce Lee loved tea for its taste, as a source of caffeine to aid his workouts, and for the antioxidants.
Caffeine is also an effective appetite suppressant, which helped Bruce Lee feel full on smaller meals and not as hungry between training sessions.
Bruce Lee didn’t drink coffee for reasons unknown, but it’s likely because he grew up in Hong Kong where tea was very popular, and he simply much preferred it.
Vitamin C & E (With Rose Hips)
- Promotes Antioxidant Health and Immune System Function
- Vitamin C and Vitamin E play important roles in supporting…
- Supplement Facts Serving Size 1 Soft gel Amount Per Serving…
Bruce Lee took vitamin C and E supplements for heart health and immune support.
The two are often supplemented together as they work synergistically to provide enhanced benefits for skin and overall health.
Rose hips may help reduce arthritis pain and aid weight loss.
- Contains naturally occurring phosphatidyl choline
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- Abounds in phosphatidyl inositol, phosphatidyl ethanolamine,…
Bruce Lee supplemented lecithin because it has a whole host of positive benefits.
Some of those benefits are how it supports heart health, brain health, and overall organ health (liver, kidneys), as well as aiding digestion and promoting better sleep quality.
- 240 Inositol Capsules Per Bottle
- 500mg Of Myo-Inositol Per Capsule
- 1 Plant-Based “Veggie” Capsule Per Serving
Bruce Lee supplemented inositol because it’s a type of sugar that can help balance serotonin and dopamine in the brain for better mental health, improve insulin function, and lower blood pressure.
Outside of supplementation, inositol is found in beans, fruits, vegetables, meat, eggs, nuts, and seeds.
Hi Bee Pollen C and Royal Jelly
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- NATURAL ENERGY: Fuel your workout, your morning routine or…
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Bruce Lee often added both of these to his protein shakes.
Bee pollen is anti-inflammatory and extremely rich in nutrients, containing lipids, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and antioxidants.
Royal Jelly enhances the immune system, endurance, protein metabolism, and gut health. It also manages cholesterol and increases the number of red blood cells which helps oxygen be more efficiently carried around the body.
- NooMost’s unique formula combines the potency of Korean…
- Offering a variety of benefits of Ginseng extract to…
- Both men and women have felt it reignite the spark and fuel…
Bruce Lee supplemented ginseng in his diet for its anti-inflammatory properties, to improve energy, manage blood sugar, and lower cholesterol.
Wheat Germ Oil
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- NATURALLY OCCURRING VITAMIN E AND OCTACOSANOL: Each…
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Bruce Lee supplemented wheat germ oil for its fiber, antioxidant properties, and ability to boost mental health.
Not so much a supplement, Bruce Lee was known to smoke weed or eat hash edibles after a training session because he believed it to “raise the consciousness level”. It also helped him relax and recover post-workout.
If Bruce Lee was alive today, he’d be taking many of the modern supplements UFC fighters take such as creatine, omega 3s, and ZMA.
Bruce Lee Diet: What He Avoided
In his diet, Bruce Lee avoided or strictly limited:
- Dairy – though he ate whey protein
- Processed food
- Junk food
What Was Bruce Lee’s Favorite Food?
Bruce Lee’s favorite food was Chinese cuisine because he found it exceptionally tasty and it provided him with plenty of protein, vegetables, and healthy carbohydrates.
His favorite dish was beef in oyster sauce and he was also fond of congee mixed with organ meats, typically liver.
Bruce Lee wasn’t perfect with his diet, occasionally having cheat meals such as ice cream and fast food on the days he burned the most calories.
Bruce Lee’s favorite food when cheating was Char-siu (BBQ pork) with rice, and sometimes he ate a McDonald’s hamburger when he was busy and needed convenient protein.
Also outside of his healthy diet, Bruce Lee drank fizzy/soft drinks between workouts for a much-needed energy boost to aid his next workout.
It wasn’t a problem for Bruce Lee to eat some of his favorite unhealthy foods because he trained intensely every day and only ate them in moderation.
Overall, he made sure his diet was packed with foods serving his body and mind.
Bruce Lee Diet Plan Example
While an official Bruce Lee diet plan was never revealed, here’s what it may have looked like.
- Meal 1: Breakfast – Tea, orange juice, a bowl of muesli with various fruits added, and/or eggs.
- Meal 2: Lunch 1 – Whey protein shake with bananas, eggs, carrots, apples, spinach, royal jelly, peanut butter, non-instant powdered milk, wheat germ, inositol, and lecithin.
- Meal 3: Snack between workouts – Banana, black tea, and a salad (with or without meat or fish).
- Meal 4: Lunch 2 – Beef in oyster sauce with either rice or noodles and plenty of greens.
- Meal 5: Dinner – Spaghetti dish with pork or beef and vegetables of choice.
Bruce Lee Diet: FAQ
Was Bruce Lee a Vegan or Vegetarian?
No, Bruce Lee wasn’t a vegan as he regularly ate meat and less often he ate fish. High protein consumption was vital for Bruce Lee’s ripped physique and a vegan diet couldn’t provide him enough protein.
It’s rumored Bruce Lee ate a vegetarian diet for short periods due to spiritual reasons, but on the whole, he wasn’t a vegetarian as eating meat was his main source of protein.
Did Bruce Lee Eat a Lot of Protein?
Yes, Bruce Lee ate a lot of protein. Protein was the macronutrient Bruce Lee gave the most importance to because he knew it was vital for building muscle, keeping himself full, and helping him recover faster between training sessions.
While numbers were never revealed, it’s plausible Bruce Lee ate around 200 grams of protein per day. This equals 800 calories out of the 2,800 daily calories he likely ate, and is plenty for someone weighing 134-140 lbs.
Bruce Lee hit his high protein requirements by eating lots of meat such as chicken and beef, eating a variety of fish, and tofu, and regularly eating protein shakes with eggs, leafy vegetables, and peanut butter.
Did Bruce Lee Eat Rice?
Aside from vegetables and fruit, rice was the main carbohydrate Bruce Lee ate.
This is because rice was part of the many Chinese dishes he ate, and it was great fuel for his workouts.
Did Bruce Lee Eat Dairy?
Yes, Bruce Lee ate dairy. He regularly drank whey protein shakes, had small amounts of milk, and occasionally ate ice cream.
Bruce Lee used non-instant powdered milk and didn’t eat cheese, which is why most people believe he didn’t eat dairy, but this isn’t the case.
What Was Bruce Lee’s Body Fat Percentage?
From the age of around 23 to 32 when he was acting in his movies, Bruce Lee’s body fat percentage fluctuated between 6 to 8%.
This is why he was extremely ripped and looked very muscular despite weighing a maximum of 140 lbs during this time.
So, ‘what was Bruce Lee’s diet?’
Bruce Lee’s diet saw him eat an overwhelmingly healthy and balanced diet full of fruit and vegetables and plenty of protein spread across 4 to 5 daily meals.
The Bruce Lee diet and supplementation stack was perfect for achieving a ripped and muscular physique, while also providing him with optimal nutrients and energy to train as often and as intensely as he did.
Eating lots of protein and vegetables helped him build and maintain muscle, recover between workouts, remain full throughout the day, and remain light, agile, and speedy for optimal martial arts performance.
Bruce Lee wasn’t super strict with his diet because he didn’t need to be. He cheated on his diet on occasion when he was pressed for time or fancied a treat.