01/23/2013 08:32 am ET Updated Jan 24, 2013

Energy Bars And Sugar: Are They As Sweet As Candy?

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.