Sold at almost every street corner across the country, nasi lemak is regularly consumed by Singaporeans and Malaysians from all walks of life, and it’s also widely regarded as the national dish of Malaysia.

Need something filling on the go? Just grab a small packet of nasi lemak wrapped in banana leaves while you pass by Mak Cik Kiah’s stall on the way to the office. Looking to start off your weekend with a scrumptious meal? Order a plate of nasi lemak and pair it with fried chicken, cuttlefish, or any side dishes that you fancy.

How Many Calories Are There in a Plate of Nasi Lemak?

Let’s take a look at the calorie content in a plate of nasi lemak:-

Plain Nasi Lemak Calories

NutrientUnitValue per 100gPlate 23cm - [200g]

Now, let’s start adding the usual sides to the dish.

The Classic Companions

NutrientUnitSambal Chilli - 1 Portion (37.48g)Cucumber Slices - 1 Serving ( 96.7 g)Ikan Bilis - 1 Serving
Roasted Peanut - 1 Serving (28g)1/2 Hard Boiled Egg (23g)

** If you’re viewing this table on a tablet/mobile device, please scroll horizontally to view all the information. **

As you can see from this table, I have separated the usual sides from the rice so that you can better estimate how many calories are there in your nasi lemak. For instance, a vegetarian can estimate how many calories are there in a plate of nasi lemak when anchovies is taken out of the equation. Someone who’s allergic to peanuts can choose to exclude it from the total calories.

Otherwise, a normal serving of nasi lemak would have netted you around 779.45 calories.

While a good serving of Nasi Lemak is always there to help you kick start your day, keep in mind that the calories can easily skyrocket when your start jazzing up your plate of nasi lemak with assorted side dishes.

The Popular Sides

NutrientUnitAyam Goreng Berempah - 1 piece (90g)Fried Egg (Telur Mata) - 1 large (46g)Sotong Sambal - 1 piece (37.4g)Ayam Sambal - 1 plate (115.17g)Udang Sambal - 1 plate (110.05g)Beef Rendang - 1 portion (267g)Chicken Rendang Plate - 16cm (116g)Mutton Rendang - 1 portion (204g)Teh Tarik - 1 Cup (363g)

** Please scroll horizontally to view all the information. **

Update: Added teh tarik calories because let’s not forget that we often wash the food down with a frothy glass of pulled tea!

A typical plate of nasi lemak + teh tarik would have resulted in 1000 calories, and if you’re the type of person who can’t live without crispy fried chicken, that’s a whopping 1263.14 calories in just one meal!

How Long Does It Take to Burn Off 1000 Calories?

Let me give you a few examples to put things into perspective.

Weighing at 84kg, I will have to1:-

a. Cycle vigorously for an hour,
b. Finish a 12km within 60 minutes,
c. Shake my butt non-stop for 4 hours in a disco, or
d. Play a game of basketball for 3 hours,

Just to burn off the nasi lemak + teh tarik combo most people would like to have for their breakfast!

Although it’s possible to lose fat by exercising alone, you should never rely primarily on physical activities to reduce your bodyweight, and here’s why:-

Research has shown that when we move more, we tend to increase our food intake – either because we thought we burned off a lot of calories from the exercises that we have performed2, or simply due to post-workout hunger.

We also have the tendency to slow down after a workout, using less energy for our everyday activities3. For example, we would order food delivery instead of cooking our own meals, or taking the elevator instead of staircase. This will lower our NEAT (non-exercise activity thermogenesis) and subsequently, the total calories burned in a day.

These changes are also known as “compensatory behaviors4,5 — and it refers to tiny changes that we may unconsciously make after working out to counteract the calories burned.


It’s hard to say ‘no’ to the amazing dishes around the country, but being aware of the calorie content of the food we’re consuming will help us to make better decisions in the future.

Remember, simple changes can make a whole world of difference.


1. Calories burned in 30 minutes for people of three different weights. Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/diet-and-weight-loss/calories-burned-in-30-minutes-of-leisure-and-routine-activities

2. D. M. Thomas, C. Bouchard, T. Church, C. Slentz, W. E. Kraus, L. M. Redman, C. K. Martin, A. M. Silva, M. Vossen, K. Westerterp, and S. B. Heymsfield (2012), Why do individuals not lose more weight from an exercise intervention at a defined dose? An energy balance analysis. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3771367/

3. Mauro Felippe Felix Mediano, Daniel J. Hoffman, Rosely Sichieri (2016), Effect of Exercise Intensity on Spontaneous Physical Activity Energy Expenditure in Overweight Boys: A Crossover Study. Retrieved from https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0147141

4. Timothy S. Church, Corby K. Martin, Angela M. Thompson, Conrad P. Earnest, Catherine R. Mikus, and Steven N. Blair (2009), Changes in Weight, Waist Circumference and Compensatory Responses with Different Doses of Exercise among Sedentary, Overweight Postmenopausal Women. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2639700/

5. Edward L Melanson, Sarah Kozey Keadle, Joseph E Donnelly, Barry Braun, Neil A King (2013), Resistance to exercise-induced weight loss: compensatory behavioral adaptations. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23470300/