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Monday, October 30, 2006

Kringas: Low-Carb 'Enjoyable' With Chocolate

I'd like to introduce you to someone who I have grown to love and respect for the products she is offering people who are diabetic and/or on the low-carb lifestyle. Her name is Mary Jo Kringas and she is the owner of Low-Carb Specialties, makers of the most amazing sugar-free, low-carb chocolate bars you'll ever taste--CHOCOPERFECTION!

As a big fan of her chocolates, I asked Mary Jo if I could invite her here for an interview and she remarked that she never does any interviews with anyone--but she'd be HAPPY to do one for me! Awww, that was soooo sweet! THANKS so much, Mary Jo! Check out what makes this woman so happy to wake up in the morning and how she eats 2-3 chocolate bars DAILY to help her keep her weight under control and her body healthy.

1. Joining me today at the "Livin' La Vida Low-Carb" blog is a woman who many would say has one of the best jobs in the entire world--SELLING CHOCOLATE! Mmmm! It's Mary Jo Kringas from LowCarbSpecialties.com, makers of those yummy ChocoPerfection bars you hear me raving about so much at my blog. Welcome, Mary Jo! Tell us a little bit about how you got into the sugar-free chocolate-making business.

Hi Jimmy and thank you for inviting me to be part of your low-carb blog. I truly respect you for telling others what is real about low-carb and sharing your story about losing weight the low-carb way.

I got into the sugar-free chocolate business because I felt I had no other choice. I LOVE CHOCOLATE, but my body did not like sugar or artificial sweeteners. I grew up working behind the counter of my grandfather’s candy store, starting at age five. By the time I was 16, I weighed 475 pounds. I lost weight by implementing more balanced eating and I tried about 20 different “diets” over the years. But even after all that and two stomach stapling surgeries, my weight still hovered around 275 pounds.

I continued to rely on chocolate as the only food in life that I cannot live without. The problem being that there was no “healthy chocolate” available anywhere. All the ones I saw were either made with sugar or with artificial sweeteners, both of which caused insulin surges and kept me from losing weight.

I eventually went total low-carb and discovered “oligofructose” (a very scary sounding word that describes a sweetener made from ground up chickory root), which many food scientists are now discovering is one of the healthiest foods on the planet (see Men’s Health, May/06, Weight Loss Research Update) and I started to develop a chocolate bar around this sweetener. I experimented with my chocolate for about 1 1/2 years, and I lost 75 pounds during this time. I have been in the ChocoPerfection business for 2 ½ years now and my weight is down a total of 100 pounds.


2. WOW, congratulations, Mary Jo! Your amazing weight loss success story can be attributed to your regular consumption of ChocoPerfection bars both during your weight loss and now well into maintenance. That's what I call "suffering" on your diet! LOL! Why is eating chocolate so important for people following a sugar-free, low-carb diet?

I don’t know about others, but I find that if I am suffering, I will not continue. I truly believe that there are three critical stages to going low-carb.

Stage 1: Admitting that this is what needs to be done and making a full commitment to avoiding sugar, pasta, breads, cake, and most fruit.

Stage 2: Actually doing the low-carb lifestyle and implementing low-carb eating in your life. The first 4 weeks are usually the hardest because I also believe the carb-craving is intensified by yeast infections and/or parasites in the colon. These yeasts and parasites thrive on carbs, and when one cancels the “carb program” the yeasts and parasites fight back with headaches, bad breath and depression.

This 2nd stage is not for light-weights--it took everything I had within me to persist. Weight loss is assured in this stage if one is truly low-carbing and avoiding all refined sugars and artificial sweeteners and dairy.

Stage 3: Weight loss has been achieved and/or is consistent. One starts to feel good about their appearance, and their weight loss success. They have forgotten the pain of Stage 2, and they have adapted the low-carb lifestyle as a workable solution for the foreseeable future.

ChocoPerfection is useful in Stage 2, but, in my opinion, it is critical in Stage 3 when one is maintaining their low-carb lifestyle as well. Many people ask me how I lost my weight. I tell them I went low-carb and they tell me “Oh, I tried that, but when I stopped, I gained all the weight back and then some.” I want to cry when I hear this.

Like you, I know the pain of being fat. To actually be free of the weight and then have it all come back is a complete nightmare. The diligence involved in maintenance is critical, and it requires a different kind of thinking. Maintenance requires a commitment to long-term low-carbing that, as a priority, needs to be enjoyable. A critical aspect of this strategy allows one to avoid Little Debbies and Ding Dongs because they have found alternatives that turn them on just as much, and are healthy.


3. I have been criticized by many low-carb purists for my preference to eat what they consider low-carb "junk" foods such as nut-based bars and even your ChocoPerfection bars. I don't personally care what other people think of my diet as long as I'm losing weight because I'm eating healthier than I have ever eaten in my entire life. How do you respond to those who label products like ChocoPerfection bars as "junk" food?

Like you, I am healthier than I have ever been in my entire life. I eat 2-3 ChocoPerfection bars a day and I have never felt or looked better than I do right now. I firmly believe that without ChocoPerfection bars I would weigh much more and that is why I started the ChocoPerfection business.

I would not agree with the description of ChocoPerfection as a “junk food” which is a term I reserve for stuff like diet sodas and other things that are utterly senseless to consume. ChocoPerfection has 14g of fiber in every bar, is packed with all the antioxidants and mood enhancement of chocolate, is highly satiating, and due to the oligofructose, actually helps clear the body of parasites and yeasts.


4. One of the reasons I consider ChocoPerfection bars to be the best chocolate bar for diabetics and low-carbers is the phenomenal European chocolate taste they have without all the cheap artificial sweeteners that are packed into so many of the so-called sugar-free, low-carb products these days. What makes ChocoPerfection sweeteners different and are there any health benefits to choosing them over the more inferior sweeteners?

The sweeteners in ChocoPerfection are oligofructose, which is made from ground-up chickory root, and erythritol, which comes from fermented natural foods such as grapes, melon, and mushrooms. Almost all other sugar-free products are made from maltitol, sucralose (Splenda), or aspartame (Nutrasweet). As you have blogged about many times, most people experience diarrhea and/or other laxative effects from maltitol.

Nutrasweet breaks down into formaldehyde in the body, which is toxic, and has been linked to brain tumors and retinal damage. Despite all this, the biggest problem for me, with all of the artificial sweeteners, is that they completely stopped my weight loss and, in my opinion, they really don’t taste that good.

It was not until I started using the sweeteners in ChocoPerfection that I was able to feel like I was really eating something that tasted like real chocolate and still lose weight. There are big health benefits to oligofructose, which was named as one of the healthiest foods on the planet due to its prebiotic properties to clean the colon and strengthen the immune system. Also, erythritol supports the minerals in the bones and teeth, stops sugar cravings, and converts to glutathione in the body which helps clean the liver.

Aside from these great benefits, oligofructose and erythritol are the only known sweeteners approved by the USDA that rank zero on the glycemic index. This is a very big deal to me. All the artificial sweeteners use the label “sugar-free” but fail to disclose that laboratory tests show the glycemic index of many of these "healthy" products to be 51 to 59, which is more than the glycemic index of macaroni.

Most low-carbers know that the key reason to avoid the carbs is their effect on insulin levels. The glycemic index of artificial sweeteners shows that they surge insulin levels, so even if they were not toxic, which they are, they would still keep you fat.


5. Erythritol is a sugar alcohol just as the stomach-exploding maltitol is. Why is it a better sweetener for people who are livin' la vida low-carb and does it have any known side effects that you are aware of as well?

The thing that baffles me everyday is how erythritol ever got its name. I mean, it is named like a sugar alcohol (which is a class of sweeteners that is almost uniformly artificial and uniformly toxic), yet erythritol is completely natural and shares more in common with the production methods of sugar than that of stuff in a test tube which is where nearly all the other sugar alcohols come from.

To the best of my knowledge, erythritol has no known side effects and is completely healthy. If I knew otherwise, I would not eat 2-3 of these ChocoPerfection bars a day.


6. You also use oligofructose in your ChocoPerfection bars, which is another up-and-coming sweetener among quality sugar-free, low-carb products. In fact, a recent study confirms that eating oligofructose can improve intestinal health and cut down on infections. Tell us a little more about this sweetener and why you decided to use it in your chocolate bars.

For me, the way to evaluate a sweetener is to find out how it tastes compared to sugar. Erythritol is a great sweetener and is completely healthy, but it has a sweetness intensity of only about 80% of sugar and it has a “coolness” to its taste on the tongue. I found that oligofructose balances the loss of sweetness from erythritol and also balances the coolness. Oligofructose is also the most intense source of dietary and healthy fiber in the ChocoPerfection bars.

7. There is a ton of fiber packed in every single ChocoPerfection bar--14 grams to be exact! How important is fiber in a healthy diet? Does the fiber impact the taste or texture of the chocolate?

As you know, it is pretty difficult to get the recommended amount of fiber in your diet. The USDA recommends about 22g daily and even most fruits and vegetables only have 2-3 g each of fiber at most. The source of fiber in ChocoPerfection is oligofructose, which is very fine and not gritty. So, even though the ChocoPerfection bars have a huge concentration of fiber, you'd never know it by the taste and texture of the bar which is just like fine European chocolate.

8. In addition to your fantastic ChocoPerfection bars, you also have a sweetener product you call SweetPerfection which is made from finely ground chicory root. When I tasted this for the first time, it reminded me of eating cotton candy. Where did you discover this sweet, low-glycemic sugar substitute and why should people begin using this product instead of any of the other artificial sweeteners on the market today?

I love oligofructose which we also sell in equivalent conversion to sugar as SweetPerfection. I bake with SweetPerfection, I use it in ice cream, as a sweetener in tea and coffee and in all my recipes that call for sugar. SweetPerfection tastes like sugar, measures like sugar, and performs in recipes like sugar, except it has a zero glycemic index, is high in healthy fiber, and has properties to support the immune system.

9. Whenever I try to tell people about sugar-free products these days, they turn their nose up at me as if the products cannot possibly taste good without the sugar. I'm sure you run into this often with many of your prospective customers. What do you do to assure people that eating a ChocoPerfection bar will be as delightful an experience as they will ever taste out of a "diet" food?

Jimmy, I feel there is no way to convince people of anything other than to let them see for themselves. What I do is offer a “100% Satisfaction/No Questions Asked Guarantee.” This means that if anyone ever buys any of our products and is not completely happy with it for any reason at all, they get a full refund. It is my hope that low-carbing, chocolate lovers will give themselves a chance to taste ChocoPerfection, and to support their healthy lifestyle with no risk for their purchase.



10. THANKS for sharing a little bit of time with me and my readers today at the "Livin' La Vida Low-Carb" blog, Mary Jo! I sincerely hope that people take advantage of the fantastic products you have to offer them as they seek a healthier lifestyle for themselves. Do you have any parting words of encouragement or advice you would like to share?

Thanks Jimmy, my chance to share with you about my life has been great. As you know, I promised you my only interview and this has been it. I have lived most of my life as a fat person. The emotional pain was tremendous. The persistent hope that I could eat foods I loved, be satisfied, and yet somehow be thin was a dream I never thought I would get. Now, I live my dream. I eat at least 3 desserts a day in addition to meals, without mood swings, sugar cravings or weight gain. Is this heaven or what?

Heaven indeed, Mary Jo! THANKS so much for sharing with my readers about the outstanding products you have available at Low-Carb Specialties. Now, pardon me for a moment, I think I need to go order me some more ChocoPerfection bars! CLICK HERE to order some for yourself! :D Mary Jo GUARANTEES you'll LOVE 'em or your money back. What do you have to lose...besides weight?!

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3 Comments:

Blogger Sandylp said...

Based on your recommendation, Jimmy, I placed an order for 12 bars. If I like them, I'll order more. I've been looking for some chocolate without the maltitol, but I couldn't find any. I try not to go over-board and eat too much chocolate, but I think it's important to have alternatives available so as not to lose control and grab a piece of candy with sugar (heaven forbid!). Thanks again for your wonderful blog and your recommendations. Sandy

10/31/2006 10:01 PM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

I know you won't be disappointed, Sandy! Let me know what you think when you try ChocoPerfection for the first time. THANKS!

10/31/2006 10:28 PM  
Anonymous JM said...

Thank you for this interview.

I ordered 4 12-packs of this at the end of 2007, and have slowly eaten them over the past 7 months or so. I can only eat a few pieces per day, or I get gas. But the taste is phenomenal.

HOWEVER...there is something about these bars that makes me lose weight. A LOT. And it's not just because they're low in carbs. There is something that lowers my appetite and changes my cravings.

Just to be clear - this is a GOOD thing!

I know it's not the cocoa or erythritol, because I had consumed them for almost a year before with no effect on my (always high) appetite.

Oligofructose seems to be the key. I googled "oligofructose weight loss" and found a Belgian study on rats and then on humans that said that appetite lowered through some complex changes in intestinal peptides.

I lost a lot of weight (~30 lbs over a couple of months), wondering what the hell was going on. When I eased up on the chocolate, my weight stabilized and slowly crept up.

I read elsewhere online that oligofructose increases bifidobacterium levels in the gut, and high levels of bifidobacterium are related to lower bodyfat.

I do think there is a connection that the science will vindicate soon.

In the meantime, I just ordered more ChocoPerfection. Not a fan of raspberry myself, Jimmy - otherwise, I would've tried yours as well. :)

7/30/2008 8:16 PM  

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