This is what Malaysians think about their breakfast

Would it surprise you to know that it isn't local favourites like nasi lemak and roti canai, or even just bread and butter or jam, that are the most popular breakfast choices for Malaysians?

Instead, a survey reveals that the most popular choices are coffee and eggs (30 per cent), followed by tea and rice, and coffee and rice (both 22 per cent).

However, popularity does not equal quality.

"It's interesting that all of these options stated don't really provide a complete healthy breakfast," says Herbalife Nutrition Advisory Board chairman Dr Kent Bradley.

The Asia Pacific Healthy Breakfast Survey 2019 was commissioned by Herbalife Nutrition and included 11 countries in the region, including Malaysia.

Coffee and eggs could be healthier than nasi lemak, for instance, but it's important to note that the recommended proportion of nutrients in a healthy breakfast is 40 per cent carbohydrates, 30 per cent protein and 30 per cent fibre.

"Eggs have essential amino acids, but they also have a high level of cholesterol and very little fibre.

"It's recommended to have 20-30 grammes of fibre per day, but most individuals probably consume only half of that," says Dr Bradley, who is also Herbalife Nutrition's Medical Affairs and Education vice-president.

There are abundant health benefits related to having breakfast regularly, and fortunately, the majority of Malaysians are aware of them.

What does your favourite breakfast food say about you?

  • If bacon is your favourite breakfast food, you should be the go-to person for people's tough questions. Or even if it is for something simple like what should they eat. Bacon.
  • If this New York staple is your favourite, you're basically like Beyonce, according to Buzzfeed.
  • Biscuits as your favourite means you know how to appreciate life's flakier things. You also manage to have this glow about you. A special biscuit-lover glow.
  • If biscuits and gravy are your favourite, you are most likely to be cool. As cool as leather jackets, motorcycles, and definitely ice cubes.
  • According to Buzzfeed, if breakfast burritos are your favourite, you are both a trendsetter and an enforcer. Who would have ever thought to wrap eggs up in a flour tortilla, and it ending up as a legit breakfast food?
  • If the classic egg and cheese is your favourite, you definitely have great taste. With or without sausage or bacon, you know just what belongs slapped inside a sandwich. Only really smart and cool people possess this kind of life knowledge.
  • Cereal is a gift from the breakfast Gods. Cereal-lovers are sweet and have an inner magnetism that no one can resist. You are the kind of person everyone just wants to be near, according to Buzzfeed.
  • If you love these sticky and lovable things, you are definitely lovable too!
  • Breakfast is never complete without coffee. If it's your favourite part of breakfast, you are most likely the kind of person who instantly lights up a room just by walking into it, according to Buzzfeed. You improve any situation, just like this warm and soothing beverage.
  • Lovers of pancake's French, feather-light cousin have a heart of gold, according to Buzzfeed.
  • If you love croissants, you are tremendously fancy and living the dream. You know, the dream everyone's always talking about? Yes, that one.
  • If donuts are what you love for breakfast, that means you keep it real. Unlike all the other fake breakfast eaters, you are mad authentic and don't try to hide behind the mask of pretentiousness. Way to go, donut lovers!
  • If you love it when a poached egg explodes all over your breakfast, here's a secret: everyone wants to be you. Whether they make it obvious or hide it, there is no denying that fact.
  • Buzzfeed says that if you are a fan of this squishy egg bread, it can only mean one thing: You are destined for greatness. Everyone will watch you and your maple syrup trail to the stars.
  • What can be simpler than the classic fried eggs for breakfast? Absolutely nothing. Also, fried egg lovers get to use special terminology when ordering them - "over easy", "sunny side up", "over hard". If they are your favourite, it means you're doing everything right.
  • Fruits are definitely the healthiest option for breakfast. If you are a fruit-eating breakfast eater, this means you value a healthy lifestyle. You also have it going on, according to Buzzfeed.
  • If granola is your favourite, you are completely hater-proof. You never ever let the haters stop you from doing your thing. Unlike scrambled eggs, granola lends itself so seamlessly to being formed into a bar. And that is a good sign.
  • Let's be honest here, grits aren't the most aesthetically-pleasing food. So if your favourite are grits, it means you look beyond the surface. According to Buzzfeed, grits lovers radiate an aura of inner beauty. Not everyone can see beyond aesthetics like you, so don't worry too much if no one sees your worth.
  • If hardboiled eggs are your favourite, you make the world a better place just by being in it. On behalf of the rest of the world, we would like to say thank you!
  • If you have the special knowledge that crispy shredded potatoes come above anything else, you are a genius! This knowledge itself sets you apart from all the average people.
  • If this Mexican delight is your favourite, you are what's often described as a "winner." Not only do you win at life, you most definitely win at breakfast too. What else could possibly matter?
  • You are one of the special people who eats fish for breakfast, my friend. And there's really nothing wrong with it. If your favourite is lox, you have tremendous strength of character.
  • Muffin lovers basically have the best personality, according to Buzzfeed. You're most probably not one of those people who needs to have perfect hair and make-up to retract people's attention away from your horrible personality. In fact, you are the opposite!
  • Oatmeal fans, not only do you deserve an award for eating a healthy breakfast, you should get an award for being awesome too!
  • You must have an attitude if omelettes are your favourite. But a good kind of attitude, don't worry.
  • Yum, pancakes. If they are your favourite, it means you're basically a professional at breakfast. Buzzfeed suggests you put "eating breakfast" on your resume, just because you're so good at it.
  • Poptarts are flawless, therefore you are probably flawless if these are your favourite. In fact, you wake up flawless.
  • Sausage lovers are breakfast champions, members of an elite class of breakfast eaters. If you're lucky, you might even be sent on a train to represent your country in the Olympics for breakfast eating!
  • You may not believe this, but if scrambled eggs are your favourite, it means you have hidden powers, according to Buzzfeed. Your hidden talents are very powerful and if you join forces with the other scrambled egg lovers, you could essentially rule the world.
  • It is a known fact that smoothie lovers are incredibly stylish. Just look at what you're wearing right now. Everyone loves it.
  • If toast is your favourite, you are basically made of sunshine! In fact, you probably don't even need a toaster. Buzzfeed suggests you rub the bread all over your body so that the sunshine from within will toast it.
  • You must be super hot if waffles are your favourite. Isn't that how it usually works when it comes to waffles and the people who eat them?
  • Last but not least, yoghurt. If this is your favourite, it just means you have a beautiful soul. According to Buzzfeed, if it is possible to see your soul directly, people will probably start crying because it is so beautiful.

They recognise that gaining energy (83 per cent) is the number one advantage of having breakfast, followed by increasing their metabolism (49 per cent), improving their personal well-being (39 per cent), improving their mood (38 per cent) and maintaining their weight (37 per cent).

Considering that breakfast is indeed the most important meal of the day, it's also encouraging to note that half of Malaysians (54 per cent) fill up their stomach within two to three hours after waking up every day.

Consequently, 74 per cent of them feel more energetic and productive post-breakfast.

"Our body goes through an overnight fasting period when we sleep.

"By eating within two to three hours after we get up, we can kickstart our metabolism and stave off hunger that may cause us to make unhealthy choices in order to address our cravings," says Dr Bradley.

According to Dr Bradley, one way to improve the convenience and nutritional value of our breakfast is to have food that needs minimal preparation and can be eaten on the go. PHOTO: The Star/Asia News Network

When it comes to preparing breakfast, the survey found that three-quarters of Malaysians are most influenced by convenience and accessibility, rather than the healthiness (39 per cent) and nutritional value (37 per cent) of their meal.

This is probably why one-third of Malaysians would buy their breakfast from an eatery, rather than prepare it from scratch (30 per cent) or use processed food (24 per cent) at home.

"Another way to incorporate convenience and nutritional value at home is to set aside food that can be eaten with minimal preparation and can be consumed on the go," says Dr Bradley.

Although nine out of 10 Malaysians (94 per cent) want to have a healthier meal in the morning, there are a few barriers that prevent them from doing so.

"The main issues in consuming a healthy breakfast are the desire for convenience (75 per cent), lack of time (73 per cent) and lack of money (36 per cent), while one-third think it requires too much work," says the nutritionist.

On the other hand, he suggests that lack of knowledge could contribute to Malaysians having less healthy breakfasts.

"For example, Malaysia's third most popular breakfast option (which is a bowl of rice and eggs) has 400 calories (4g of fibre and 10g of protein) and has very low nutritional value.

"What we need to do now is teach the public on how to get better nutrition without the cost of the calories," he says.

A complete breakfast that addresses our body's needs should focus on a high density of protein, good sources of low calories, and adequate carbohydrates, fibre and multivitamins.

Spinach, two-egg omelettes and high-fibre wholegrain bread are good options, for example.

Dr Bradley notes however, that our protein intake should be spread throughout the day.

"The ideal protein for a person is 0.8g per kilogramme of body weight and it'd be great if it's spread out evenly throughout the day.

"The body doesn't store protein, but instead, uses it up, so it's important to have some source of protein every three to six hours.

"Having a decent amount of protein consistently will help build our muscle. It's extremely helpful to keep our metabolism high.

"Anything you can do to keep your muscle mass is really good and protein is a good way to do that," he says.