Every energy bar I’ve found has preservatives, so I started making my own with oats, agave and nuts. I thought they were healthy, but I’ve gained 10 pounds in six weeks. Why?

Your sweetener might be to blame. Agave is billed as a “natural” sugar, but it’s actually made by extracting and concentrating sugars from the agave plant, resulting in a syrup that’s up to 90 percent fructose. The problem: Unlike table sugars and other sweeteners that are higher in glucose, fructose is processed by the liver. When this organ is presented with more fructose than it can handle, the excess is stored as fat. Plus, the liver works so hard trying to process fructose that it becomes less able to flush toxins and burn fat.

To avoid this, try coconut sugar. This natural sweetener is just 9 percent fructose and is full of blood sugar-balancing minerals. Making this switch can rev the liver’s ability to burn fat by 30 percent, helping you get slim in no time.

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