Tuesday, November 08, 2011

The Seven Typical Malaysian Breakfast

The last i counted the calories of the food i take was when i was seriously bodybuilding about 16 years ago. I was a lean 60kg after RMC and i felt i could add in a few inches to my body to beef them up a bit more. Bodybuilding back then was simple. Nutritional supplement was expensive for non-working teenager like me and i had to rely on natural food and what is available from my mum's weekly purchases from the market. Needless to say, eggs, being the cheapest protein was my favorite and i knew how much calorie one medium sized apple carry (it is 85kcal by the way, for something you can hold 3/4 in your hand).
With the recent passing of two friends my age, i am a little bit more cautious now - more so with the family history of hypertension, stroke and diabetes running in the blood. I do not want to be part of the statistic.
173cm. 60kg. 30 inch waist line. So 1993.
One bad habit i have is to use exercise as an excuse to eat whatever i want. True to a large extend actually. Looking back at what i stuff my face into - mostly sinful delicious food, i am now having a second take to eat more consciously. While i can not be perfectly clean (food that is), what i can do is to eat more whole food.
Whole food meaning minimally or not processed. In the context of today's food, everything is processed. The "healthy" burger patty is actually processed meat with preservatives and other ingredient that you have no idea where they come from. That "wholemeal" bread you thought is healthy has "enriched flour" as the main ingredient. If you have no inkling of why i am called it "enriched flour", read here about item 6.
The dilemma of eating cleaner and healthier is tough. Food you will usually eat suddenly comes under intensive scrutiny and you will end up not eating or go have something less than satisfying.
Today's entry is aimed to help you my readers to make informed choices on the food that a Malaysian will typically eat for breakfast and their caloric content. I will try to be as general as possible, minding that there will be variation to these food calorie content depending on the actual ingredient used. But they can be used as a very good guideline. This list will be as extensive as possibly, covering the main items typical for a Malaysian breakfast. I hope this will be an eye opener too. Caloric value taken from myfitnesspal.com
1. Malay Food
a. The ever irresistable Nasi Lemak
No breakfast is complete without the white rice cooked in coconut milk, immersed with spicy anchovies sambal, with fried anchovies, one or two cucumber and perhaps a quarter egg. Serving size varies from a small palm sized prepacked (about RM1.50) to a full plate with extra added in. A basic Nasi Lemak is loaded with 400kcal of energy of which 80% comes from the rice and you will be packing close to 14g of fats with each serving.. Adding one piece of fried chicken breast adds in another 260kcal and a bonus 11grams of fat. Feel free to add in another 7grams of fat if you love chicken wing. 
This is close to 1000kcal. Basic Nasi Lemak with added fried eggs, squid sambal, fried chicken. RM3.50. 
b. The economy Meehoon Goreng and Fried Noodle
Cheap is the keyword with this meal that you can pack if you do not want the typical Nasi Lemak. Afterall, rice vermicelli should be lesser of an evil compared to Nasi Lemak, right? Unfortunately, a plate of fried meehon will give you 525kcal. And that is without any extra, such as the sambal added on. Expect a good 26gram of fat with each packet you eat. Same goes with fried noodle - 500kcal, same amount of oil, if not more.
2. Chinese Food
a. The staple Wan Tan Mee
Egg noodle cooked in hot water and mixed with soya sauce and other ingredient before being served with a few slices of pork and some vegetable. Sound healthy. This staple breakfast for many will gives you close to 410kcal with 12grams of fat. If you have the tendency make it "supersized", please just double up the calories (big sized). Love chicken feet? Add in 80kcal and 5grams of fats each, please.
b. The Pan Mee Connection
Pan Mee or flat noodle, are made from entirely white flour pressed into dough and then cut into strip. It is just another noodle. However, due to the usage of flour, a serving will gives you 475kcal with 22grams of fat. Now, that is without the fried anchovies and pork...don't be too shy to put in additional 120kcal for these two items that comes with the noodle. If you choose to supersize - don't be too shy too to double the calorie count.
3. Indian Food
a. The humble Paratha
Made to feed the workmen, this simple bread otherwise known as Roti Canai in Malaysia packs a hefty 200kcal with 7grams of fat on average (as the sizes differ from store to store). If you love your roti flooded with dhal curry, please feel free to pack in another 300kcal for about half cup of sinful delight. This is ONE roti with dhal and it is about 500kcal per serving. Add in another 100kcal if you opt for fish curry - fish not included. Sorry, that energy is from the oil used to cook fish curry.
b. The peasant Thosai
Made from black lentils and rice batter, this is by far the least of all the evil - if eaten just as they are. At 46kcal per serving, you can have 10 of these without feeling too guilty. Fat is almost negligible. However, put in the chutney and other curry and be prepared to pay another 200kcal on top of the 46kcal you are consuming. A piece of Rawa Thosai will set you back about 200kcal and a Masala thosai will give you about 350kcal. All the above is WITHOUT curry, chutney or any other condiment. Add as appropriate.
4. Continental/Western Breakfast
The typical "continental" or western breakfast would include two slices of white bread which will give about 200kcal, with 1 teaspoon of butter at another 100kcal. If you need your half boiled eggs, that is about 80kcal for a "B" graded egg each. Throw in a hot dog (with other chemicals) will add in 150kcal. Add Ham and Bacon at your own risk (but for number sake - they are 42kcal/strip of friend bacon/bacon with 3grams of fat each).

So, you have it. The seven most typical Breakfast a Malaysian would be eating every morning. This meal is excluding the drinks that will be typically ordered to complement these food and expect to add in another 110kcal for the small cup of Kopi laden with condensed milk.
The average amount of energy works out to about 600-700 kcal, which is already half of what is needed for a typical Malaysian that sits in front of the computer for 8hours a day and only exercises for at least 30minutes a week. No wonder we have rising obesity rates as I have not even factored in what is for lunch (banana leave i heard) or dinner (what about a steak, or more rice, hey, maybe that Hokkien char will be great!)


  1. Q: how much calories do you need to start your day
    Q2: how much calories should one take at lunch and dinner

    Q3: Can one survive just on vegetables alone minus the meats, eggs and power gels?

  2. P5:
    A1: There is no number to put to start your day. When you wake up, with the last meal (assuming no mamak session the night before at 12am or 2am), your body has been deprived of food/fuel for 8hours at least. Any food taken will be used up as energy. Starting your day on something sweet will be demerital as you will only spike your blood sugar and increase your body tolerance to insulin. Read Part 3 of the food that will kill you slowly.
    A2: Your calorie for lunch and dinner is dependant on your daily need. If you are a hard laborer doing heavy lifting all day long, a high caloric diet is only normal. Problem is, we eat more than we need.
    A3: on vegetables alone i would not have a good idea. Perhaps you can, but you will need carbs and oil to supplement. There is not much energy in a bowl of salad (minus dressing). Powergels? they are sugar! I make my own energy gel, or get those that are made from real food.

    I am 173cm and weigh 74kg. TO maintain my weight, i need about 1580kcal/day. That is factoring in 2 workout lasting 1 hour each per week. My day are usually spent sitting down, typing and doing paperwork. I don't need as much energy.

    I follow the adage of eating like a king for breakfast (highest calorie), peasant for lunch (about 500kcal) and pauper for dinner (about 400kcal). The balance is for the other snacks i will take - like nuts, dried fruits and fresh fruits.