Brace yourself for what I'm about to write.
You imagine you are purchasing something healthy, aren't you? <shaking you by the shoulders!>
That's why you are there, scanning the plethora of protein bar alternatives, isn't it? Searching for the healthy meal replacement or supplement?
Have you REALLY looked into the nutrition of that protein bar?
Chances are you're supplementing your diet with high fructose corn syrup and SUGAR, palm oil, and a plethora of chemical compounds..
Examples... Clif, Luna, MetRx, Lara...you name it..it's essentially garbage. Harsh statement, isn't it? (Sorry to those manufacturers. The truth hurts.)
Typically the main most potent ingredient is... (drum roll...) sugar.
Srpinkle in a few chemicals, a few unhealthy oils - or if you really want to add high sugar, ensure the bar is "binded" with fruit.
That will jump up the sugar calories by double or triple.
Do you want to exercise hard, do well for your body in every other aspect of your health, and consume approximately 26+ grams of sugars?
But there is so much more to be said. While these bars appear to be a nutritional equivalent to a balanced meal, they don't take the place of a nutrition varied diet of natural, minimally processed sources of protein, fat, carbs, vitamins and minerals. For example, many of these bars are fortified with the same vitamins and minerals found in fruits and vegetables, but they don't contain the phytochemicals, natural fiber and balance of nutrients, so their comparative health benefits are NOT the same.
Most of the energy bars contain hydrogenated oils or partially hydrogenated palm oil, so even though the fat content of these bars is within reasonable limits, the percentage of saturate fat in the bar(s) can be quite high.
But... if your choice is between a high fat, high salt typical fast food meal and an energy bar, you're better off choosing the protein bar, but they still don't contain the nutritional health benefits of a well chosen, varied diet of fresh fruits and vegetables, very lean sources of protein, nutrient dense complex carbs and good sources of fat. Enough said.