Diet & Exercise: Breakfast: The most important meal of the day

Published 5:00 pm Thursday, September 7, 2017

Most of us know the word breakfast means to break the fast from the night before, but here are some things you might not know. Originally, dinner, not breakfast, was referred to as the first meal of the day. It was derived from the French word “disner” meaning breakfast.

Today’s American breakfast is a reflection of the history of our country. Some typical breakfast foods include corn muffins and grits (introduced by colonists), potato pancakes and doughnuts (brought by immigrants), and corn flakes and granola (from 19th century food reformers who advocated a healthy diet).

Other breakfast foods like waffles, coffee, Pop Tarts, cereals, low-fat and pre-cooked bacon, cholesterol-free Egg Beaters, and instant oatmeal were partially the result of modern convenience, nutrition legislation and scientific advancement.

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We’ve all heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but why? It’s simple really. After going all night without food, we need to resupply ourselves with glucose.

Glucose is a simple sugar (monosaccharide) which is converted to glycogen (polysaccharide) by the liver. Glycogen is to you, what starch is to a potato: it’s animal sugar.

Remember being told as a kid, “Eat a good breakfast, or you won’t do well at school”?

Turns out, that’s true. Our brains actually use glycogen as fuel, and studies show that folks who eat breakfast are more productive at work and school.

Research also shows those who eat breakfast get more vitamins A, C, and E, folic acid, calcium, iron, and fiber than those who don’t. Eating breakfast is great for those trying to lose weight too, because they’re less prone to overeat at other meals or on snacks later in the day.

Some folks don’t care for traditional breakfast cuisine and that’s okay. Fruit, nuts, rice cakes, fresh cheeses, smoothies, even olives, and baked potatoes can be salubrious additions to your daily meal. You’d even be amazed at how satisfying a cold piece of salmon or other fish is, left over from dinner the night before.

I’m often asked about the healthfulness of the time-honored breakfast entree, eggs. Much of the egg’s once tarnished reputation had to do with its yolk, a concentrated source of cholesterol, but now we know that three eggs a week is fine for most everyone, except those with very high blood cholesterol levels, those who are sensitive to dietary cholesterol, and those who have egg allergies.

In fact, for most of us, eggs can truly be a “super food.” Egg yolks contain an impressive array of essential vitamins and minerals, particularly vitamins A, B-complex, D, E, and K and iron. In fact, about the only vitamin or mineral eggs don’t contain is vitamin C. Egg whites (albumin) contain almost no fat, or carbohydrates (sugar) and are a great source of high quality protein. Some eggs can actually improve heart health.

So, whether traditional or imaginative, come up with a breakfast plan that works for you.

Diet or exercise question? Email me at or text 864-494-6215. David Crocker of Landrum has been a nutritionist and master personal trainer for 29 years.