Breaking Down the Health Benefits of Energy Bars

ABC News' Becky Worley takes a look at the nutrition of those popular energy bars.
3:00 | 07/16/15

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Transcript for Breaking Down the Health Benefits of Energy Bars
energy bars. Many of us turn to them for a midday snack or post workout pick me up. We think we're making a healthy choice but are we really? ABC's Becky Worley finds out. Reporter: Snack, workout fuel, or meal replacement. Americans spend $1.2 billion on bars last year. I think that it's an easy go to especially a mom on the run. I choose them as a snack because they're convenient. Reporter: Earlier the fda told kind stop using healthy. No kapdz bars have less than four grams of fat and some have 16 grams. So the issue with bars is that really they are full of sugar, fat and salt. Reporter: But really how full? We looked at popular bars and picked two that were more than 200 calories. That's a lot of calories. Reporter: Then we asked Maia feller to analyze them. First the Lara bar. What's a separable equivalent snack? I took this Lara bar and looked it he nutrition facts label and at the total fat. No way. Absolutely. I was completely surprised. Reporter: The kit kat has a gram less protein and a little more fat but the Lara bar has more sugar. It does have more fiber. But at the end of the day they're quite similar. Reporter: Now this clif bar, Macadamia bar with white chocolate sounds awesome. Absolutely. Reporter: Her comp. Here we go. Reese's peaput butter cups and an egg white. Even adding the egg the clif has more fat, calories and both have 21 grams of sugar. We reached out to the manufacturers. Dates, chocolate chip, cocoa powder and sea Saul and asked which ingredient would your nutritionist not recommend as individual food and the makers of the clif bar said it's specifically crafted for athletes and active people to deliver balanced nutrition and a convenient source of sustained energy. That convenience is a factor. But Maia suggests air popped popcorn, nuts, boiled eggs and fruit and says they can be just as easily packed. Go for a fresh unprocessed whole food. Reporter: A task easier said than done for those of us consistently eating on the go. Becky Worley, ABC news, Brooklyn, New York. All right, let's bring in Dr. Jennifer Ashton who is getting her master's in nutrition at Columbia so you know a little something about this. A little bit. We heard in the tape piece all about energy bars or protein bars but this extends to health or fitness foods in general. Sol of it is marketing. Some of it is nutritional science and medicine so I want to show you what I'm talking about. Two bowls of trail mix there. Fitness trail mix and regular one. Why don't you pick one. Of course, I'll go for the fitness trail. You just proved what was shown in a big recent study in the journal of market research which shows that the branding in terms of fitness or weight loss has a big impact. People are more likely to choose that food and then they're likely to eat more of it and exercise less. Maybe that's because they're misjudging the portion. Maybe it's because we don't feel any guilt when we see the word fitness. We might eat for. Correct. It can add up. This can be the wolf's in sheep's clothing when talking about snacks. Fitness bars especially or the protein bar, do they offer a good balance between carbs and protein and fiber and the things we need in our body? You really have to ask yourself why are you eating it? Are you eating it for a meal replacement or a snack or before or after a workout or are you on a hiking trail for six hours a day which is how this all originated but there are some things we need to look at after you ask your question why am I consuming this? Why am I reaching for it? Read the label. We say it over and over again. Some have the same calories as a meal. Correct, number one, number two when you look at the label sugar should not be in the first three ingredients. There are a lot very chic ways to disguise the word sugar, organic brown sugar, molasses, agave nectar. Turb turbanado. I didn't even know what that meant until I got a master's in nutrition. If you want the healthiest option available. If you're looking for that pick-me-up snack and need energy you say what. I'm liking what I see. What was in the taped piece, whole foods are always better. Not always realistic if you're traveling at work, need something for convenience. This is a favorite in my house. We take bananas, a lot of them. Make a little banana sandwich, put a little thin like a teaspoon of peanut butter in the middle. Put it in the freezer and these you can store in bulk. I love these. A good blend of protein, the healthy fat, good carbs and saving a lot of money. All right. I hope my girls were listening because I'm a big banana peanut butter mom. I'll come over and make them tore you.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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