When you need some quick portable fuel, an “energy bar” may be an easy fix to help satisfy your appetite and energy needs. However, energy bars on the market vary greatly.
Some bars are just slightly more nutritious than a candy bar. Because of that, I tossed in the Hershey bar to see how the Clif Bar and Nature Valley Granola Bars compare with a Hershey’s milk chocolate candy bar.
NOTE: These nutritional comparisons have been updated since the original post.
Nature Valley granola bars are packaged into 2-bar pouches (42 g), while one Clif Bar is heavier and denser, weighing in at 68 g.
In order to compare ‘apples to apples’, the Clif Bar nutrition bars were recalculated from a serving size of 68 g to 42 g, which is about 2/3 of a Clif Bar.
|Nutritional Facts||Clif Bar®||Nature Valley®||Hershey®|
|Oatmeal Walnut||Granola Bar||Milk Chocolate|
|Raisin||Oats ‘N Honey||Candy Bar|
|42 g||42 g||44 g (1.55 oz)|
|2/3 bar||2 bars||1 bar|
|Calories from fat||68||63||117|
|Total Fat||7.6 g||7 g||13 g|
|Sat. Fat||<1 g||1 g||8 g|
|Polyunsat. Fat||2.9 g||N/A||N/A|
|Monounsat. Fat||3.4 g||N/A||N/A|
|Cholesterol||0 mg||0 mg||10 mg|
|Sodium||220 mg||140 mg||35 mg|
|Potassium||242 mg||N/A||169.1 mg|
|Total Carb.||38 g||29 g||26 g|
|Dietary Fiber||4.8 g||2 g||1 g|
|Total Sugars||16 g||11 g||25 g|
|Sugars (added)||14 g||11 g||21 g|
|Protein||10.5 g||3 g||3 g|
|Calcium||37 mg||N/A||90.9 mg|
|Iron||1.9 mg||1.0 mg||1.6 mg|
|Vitamin E||5.7% DV||N/A||N/A|
|Potassium||242 mg||N/A||160.1 mg|
|Phosphorus||14.3% DV||N/A||0% DV|
|Magnesium||14.3% DV||N/A||0% DV|
|Vitamin D||0% DV||N/A||0.7 mcg|
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a serving of food contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
Sugar Equivalents in Teaspoons Per Bar
Here’s how much sugar is added to these bars:
14 g of added sugar in the Clif Bar = 3-1/2 teaspoons of sugar
11 g of added sugar in the granola bar = 2-3/4 teaspoons of sugar
21 g of added sugar in the Hershey’s bar = 5-1/4 teaspoons of sugar
Candy Bar v. Granola Bar
The Nature Valley® granola bar contains twice the fiber and the same amount of protein as the popular Hershey’s® milk chocolate candy bar.
The Hershey’s® bar contains twice the total fat, nearly twice the amount of ‘added’ sugar, eight times the saturated fat, but four times less sodium.
So if you had to choose between the two bars, because of the high saturated fat and sugar content (both of which increase inflammation), choose the granola bar.
However, that’s NOT saying that the granola bar is “healthy”. It is still high in sugar, and the small amount of fiber does not offset the number of carbs — a whopping ratio of about 15:1, which is far from being less than a 5:1 carb-to-fiber ratio.
What’s In a Hershey’s Chocolate Bar?
Ingredients (Hershey): MILK CHOCOLATE (SUGAR, MILK, CHOCOLATE, COCOA BUTTER, MILK FAT, LECITHIN, PGPR*, NATURAL FLAVOR).
*PGPR (polyglycerol polyricinoleate) is a viscous liquid emulsifier derived from castor bean oil fatty acids. It is manufactured and not considered a “natural” ingredient.
Clif Bar v. Nature Valley Granola Bar
Gram per gram, the Clif Bar contains more calories per bite (249 calories compared to 190 in the granola bar).
The full-size Clif Bar contains 260 calories.
They both contain similar amounts of fat, although Nature Valley does not list the breakdown of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats.
Clif Bar contains nearly 2.5 times the fiber, although the carb-to-fiber ratio is still high (8-to-1), but better than Nature Valley at 15-to-1, which is clearly the winner for spiking blood sugar. 🙁
Nature Valley doesn’t come close to the protein content with a measly 3 g compared to Clif Bar’s 10.5 g, which comes from the oats, soy, and walnuts.
NOTE: Clif Bar is a non-GMO product, using non-GMO organic soy in the form of roasted soybeans and soy flour as a plant-based protein source, and they state their bar contains 100% organic rolled oats.
So if you had to choose between the two bars, Clif Bar would be the hands-down winner over the Nature Valley bars because of their higher fiber and protein content. Still, both Clif Bar and Nature Valley contain considerable amounts of added sweeteners and oil.
What’s In Them
Ingredients (Nature Valley): WHOLE GRAIN OATS, SUGAR, CANOLA OIL AND/OR SUNFLOWER OIL, RICE FLOUR, HONEY, SALT, BROWN SUGAR SYRUP, BAKING SODA, SOY LECITHIN, NATURAL FLAVOR.
Ingredients (Clif Bar): ORGANIC BROWN RICE SYRUP, ORGANIC ROLLED OATS, ORGANIC RAISINS, SOY PROTEIN ISOLATE, ORGANIC ROASTED SOYBEANS, ORGANIC CANE SYRUP, WALNUTS, ORGANIC SOY FLOUR, RICE FLOUR, ORGANIC OAT FIBER, ORGANIC HIGH OLEIC SUNFLOWER OIL, NATURAL FLAVORS, ORGANIC CINNAMON, RICE STARCH, SEA SALT, BARLEY MALT EXTRACT, MIXED TOCOPHEROLS (ANTIOXIDANT).
Energy Bars Are Calorie Dense
Energy bars are calorie dense, so watch your portion sizes. In other words, you consume more calories per mouthful.
To put this in perspective, a medium size apple weighs about 182 g and yields 85 calories, while 1/3 of a Clif Bar (23 g) yields the same number of calories. That’s because the apple is water-rich, while energy bars are dry, dense, and compact.
Karen’s Fit Tip: The ultimate source of energy comes from whole foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds.
When these foods are manufactured into little bars, they are combined with additives, such as fat, sugar, and salt to make them ‘stick together’ and more palatable, but these additives increase chronic inflammation.