When you’re feeling hungry at the end of the day, it’s easy to unwrap an energy bar. These bars have been formulated to provide a combination of fiber and protein to keep you energized and full. While the snacks are convenient and especially helpful if you’re hungry before the gym, they can often conceal a major dose of sugar, causing them to be more unhealthy than you'd expect.
In fact, some bars are as sweet as a candy bar, providing nearly a day's worth of sugar based on nutritional guidelines. The American Heart Association recommends that women should not eat or drink more than 20 grams of sugar a day, and men no more than 36 grams. A man can get half that sugar from a Balance Bar, which has 18 grams, while a woman can get a full day's dose with a Lara Bar, which can clock in at 20 grams. That's about the same amount as chocolate bars and candy like Take Five, Hershey's or Twizzlers -- the sort of snack most nutritionally minded people wouldn't eat regularly.
It's important to note that there are other healthful elements to these bars -- things like fiber, protein and even all-natural, whole ingredients. Since excess sugar can cause numerous health problems, we've compared the sugar content of the several popular energy bars to that of common candy bars.
Balance Bar vs. Take Five
Sure, there’s 14 grams of protein in the <a href="http://www.thehersheycompany.com/brands/take-5/candy-bar.aspx">Chocolate Craze Balance Bar</a>, but there’s also 18 grams of sugar. That’s the same amount of sugar that you'd find in a <a href="http://www.thehersheycompany.com/brands/take-5/candy-bar.aspx">Hershey’s Take Five Bar</a>!
Luna Bar vs. Ghiradelli Dark Chocolate
A <a href="http://www.clifbar.com/food/products_luna_bar/">Lemon Zest Luna Bar</a> is relatively low in sugar content at 13 grams, but you could still have an entire package <a href="http://caloriecount.about.com/calories-ghirardelli-chocolate-dark-60-percent-i144301">Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate Squares</a> for only 10 grams of sugar.
Cliff Bar vs. Hershey's Milk Chocolate With Almonds
The <a href="http://www.clifbar.com/food/products_clif_bar/">Spiced Pumpkin Pie Cliff Bar</a> contains more sugar at 25 grams than a <a href="http://www.hersheys.com/pure-products/details.aspx?id=2746&name=HERSHEYS+Milk+Chocolate+with+Almonds+Bar">Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bar With Almonds</a> (19 grams).
Balance Bar vs. Twizzlers
While the <a href="http://www.balance.com/nutrition/">Yogurt Honey Peanut Balance Bar </a> has 15 grams of protein and 100 percent of your daily vitamin C, it also has 18 grams of sugar, which is the exact same amount in a <a href="http://www.hersheys.com/twizzlers/products/twizzlers-pull-n-peel/cherry.aspx">Twizzlers Cherry Pull’N’Peel</a>.
Luna Bar vs. Reese's Peanut Butter Cup
Luna Bars are relatively low in sugar content for their size. However, the <a href="http://www.clifbar.com/food/products_luna_bar/">Iced Oatmeal Raisin Bar</a> is still pretty sweet with 13 grams of sugar. Similarly, you could have one <a href="http://www.myfitnesspal.com/food/calories/reeses-peanut-butter-cup-snack-size-56216671">Reese’s Peanut Butter</a> cup for only 11 grams
Lara Bar vs. Almond Joy
Sure, Lara Bars are sweetened with dates, but they’re still very, very sweet. The <a href="http://www.larabar.com/products/key-lime-pie#nutritional">Key Lime Pie Lara Bar</a> has 24 grams of sugar, which is four more grams than the sugar in one <a href="https://www.thehersheycompany.com/brands/almond-joy-bars/standard.aspx">Almond Joy</a>.
Met RX Bar vs. Peanut Butter M&Ms
The <a href="http://www.myfitnesspal.com/food/calories/met-rx-big-100-meal-replacement-bar-crispy-apple-pie-55641937">Met RX Big 100 Meal Replacement Bar Crispy Apple Pie</a> is intended to substitute an actual meal, and its caloric content reflects this. At 400 calories, this bar is only necessary when you are forced to to skip lunch -- but with its sugar content at 29 grams, it might be better to choose something else altogether. A 1.63 oz bag (pack of 24) of <a href="http://www.mms.com/us/about/products/peanutbuttermms/">Peanut Butter M&Ms</a> has 22 grams, by comparison.
Cliff Bar vs. Kit Kat
The <a href="http://www.clifbar.com/food/products_clif_bar/">Apricot Cliff Bar</a> is low in fat at 3.5 grams, with 20 percent of daily fiber. But it also has a whopping 24 grams of sugar, meaning that you could consume fewer grams in a <a href="http://www.hersheys.com/kitkat/products/kit-kat-milk-chocolate.aspx">Kit Kat Milk Chocolate Bar</a>!
Lara Bar vs. Jelly Beans
Even though a Lara Bar looks relatively small in size, it packs a punch of sugar into one tiny package. With 24 grams of sugar in the <a href="http://www.larabar.com/products/carrot-cake#nutritional">Carrot Cake Lara Bar</a> you could get the same amount of sugar in a large pack of <a href="http://caloriecount.about.com/calories-candies-jellybeans-i19108?size_grams=28.0">Jelly Beans</a>.
Met RX Bar vs. Heath Bar Toffee
If you’re prepping for a workout then the protein-loaded Met-Rx Big 100 Colossal Protein Bar could look appealing. But all that protein comes with a ton of sugar too. <a href="http://www.myfitnesspal.com/food/calories/met-rx-big-100-colossal-protein-bar-peanut-butter-caramel-crunch-19895249">The Peanut Butter Caramel Crunch RX Bar</a> has the exact same amount of sugar as it does protein: 31 grams. A <a href="http://caloriecount.about.com/calories-hersheys-toffee-bar-i19136">Hershey’s Heath Bar Toffee</a>, by comparison, has much less sugar.