ATLANTA — ATLANTA – When mom warned you not to dash out of the door without eating, she was working on an age-old theory that says breakfast is the most important meal of the day.

Why is breakfast widely considered the most important meal?

There is debate in the medical community over the risks of skipping breakfast. A recent study suggests missing the first meal of the day can increase your risk of heart disease. Others say people who eat breakfast are more likely to be healthier overall, and that breakfast itself can’t be directly linked to health risks.

Dr. Erica Francis-Scott of UnitedHealth Group’s Optum says skipping any meal regularly is not a good idea.

“Breakfast is a very important part of the day because we’re breaking a fast,” says Dr. Francis-Scott. “Your brain is looking for energy.”

After going all night without a meal your body needs a kick start. Without it, you’re probably going to be ravenous when it’s time to eat lunch.

“You’re more likely to make healthy choices if you’re not starving,” says Dr. Francis-Scott.

Nutritionists at the Mayo Clinic agree.

“If you skip breakfast because you want to save calories, reconsider that plan,” says Debra Silverman, a licensed dietitian with the Mayo Clinic. “That may lead you to overeat or choose fast but unhealthy options. Your morning meal doesn’t have to mean loading up on sugar and fats. Keep the breakfast basics in mind and set yourself up for healthier eating all day long.”

Dr. Francis-Scott says the best approach is to distribute your calorie intake throughout the day. Skipping one meal only to gorge later can throw your metabolism into a state of confusion.

“Adults who report regularly eating a healthy breakfast are more likely to perform better at work,” says Silverman.

So whether it’s the king of meals or not, mom was still right. A healthy breakfast is important enough.