Looking to finally get round to achieving that body you’ve always dreamed of. Sick of looking at those dumbbells, gathering dust in the corner of your bedroom. Well! We’ve got some old school fitness and exercise tips from a man who was years ahead of his time. If you’re someone with a busy schedule, we’ve brought you a no-nonsense take home from a superb book we’ve just read called The Art of Expressing the Human Body, on the man himself Bruce Lee.
If you’ve ever wondered how Bruce turned his five-foot-seven-inch frame into a deadly fighting machine and pound for pound one of the strongest men around, we’re going to give you a breakdown of exactly how it was achieved, along with a few inspirational words of wisdom from the man himself. This first article will be looking at diet, what he ate, when he ate and how important a role it played in sculpting his incredible physique. After all, abs are made in the kitchen!
“Only eat what the body requires, and don’t become carried away by foods that don’t benefit you.” Bruce Lee
The Art of Expressing The Human Body, author John Little draws on the meticulously put together records and notes that Bruce Lee kept throughout his life. In extraordinary detail, Bruce appeared to document every aspect of his fitness, training, and diet, in order that he could compare and contrast and continue to evolve his methods. In terms of diet, it appears that Bruce saw food very much as fuel, and was more interested in the relationship between nutrition and performance as explained by Little.
“In much the same way that someone wanting a high-performance car wouldn’t put anything in its tank but high-octane gasoline. Lee realized that if you wanted a high-performance body, you couldn’t fuel on a steady diet of beer and pizza and expect it to operate at peak efficiency. Without the right fuel, the engine of your body will perform sluggishly, at best.”
In further notes, Bruce’s wife Linda explains how he had no interest in ‘empty’ calories, food that did nothing the body. Amazingly Bruce was an advocate, even back then, of eating up to five small meals a day, a now tried and tested formula of the body sculpting elite. So what did Bruce eat, unsurprisingly Chinese food played a major part in his diet – but ultimately this came mainly in the form of rice vegetables and some form of meat, chicken or seafood. Bruce believed steadfastly that the ratio of carbs to protein in Asian food was the most appropriate diet. And furthermore that in western cuisine there was an ‘excessive emphasis’ on protein and fat.
Bruce was not a fan of dairy products, only using milk to supplement his protein shakes and shunning cheese altogether. Organ meats such as liver, kidney and heart also featured regularly on Bruce’s plate – seen today in many wellness circles as a nutritional powerhouse due to it’s high vitamin and mineral content (we at The MALESTROM do however recommend choosing strictly organic organ meat, as it is indeed the liver and kidneys etc where toxins are stored).
Lee consumed two protein drinks a day, and was convinced of the benefit of supplementation – adding among others Bee Pollen, Wheat germ oil, Vitamin E, Lecithin granules and Liquid Rose hips to his shakes. He also understood the value of a juicer with his wife Linda noting,
“We had a juicer long before they came the rage… we’d make carrot juice, vegetable juice, and fruit juice.”
Lee saw juicing as a ‘convenient form of super nutrition’, something that clearly fitted in with his philosophy and often gruelling exercise regime. Never drinking coffee, it would be interesting to see how he viewed it in this day in age; he was a big proponent of tea, consuming a wide variety, with their various health benefits of great note to Bruce himself. Favouring black tea with honey, he would carry a flask with him, wherever he was working.
Another magical elixir Lee used to sustain his boundless energy was Royal Jelly, a secretion used by worker bees to feed and nourish the Queen bees which they exclusively live off. Lee’s mixtures came in a little glass vial that had to be cut open with a small cutting stone. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar recalled that during the filming of The Game of Death Lee would frequently open one of these little vials and consume its contents. Lee’s first student Herb Jackson remembered Lee once telling him, “Whenever I do a demonstration, I take a little Royal Jelly beforehand and Voom! My energy levels are perfect.”
Here’s a breakdown of Bruce’s daily diet plan:
A bowl of cereal, containing nuts, whole grains, and dried fruits. A glass of orange juice and a cup of tea.
Juice or Protein shake
If juice – carrot, apple, celery, and parsley. For the shake, it was protein powder, 2 eggs with shells, wheat germ, banana, peanut butter and occasionally brewers yeast.
Meat, vegetables and rice and of course, a cup of tea.
Another Juice or Protein shake.
Spaghetti and salad or once again, meat, rice and vegetables.
It’s fascinating to see that in many ways, Bruce Lee’s diet was not too dissimilar to that of the modern day bodybuilder with less emphasis on the quantity of meat consumed in favour it would seem of more vegetables, very much reflecting Asian attitudes towards diet. And of course, it is no surprise to learn that many bodybuilders looked to Bruce as a trailblazer of sorts in his attitude to sculpting the perfect physique.
It would be interesting to take a trip around a Wholefoods with Bruce Lee, and furthermore to hear his thoughts on the vast and endless nutritional advice sweeping the web from paleo, no carb, low carb, high carb, gluten free, sugar free, high protein, high fat, low fat and so on and so forth! We at The MALESTROM think he’d have been like a kid in a candy shop to be fair, his thirst for knowledge knowing no bounds.