More than a million people follow him on Instagram. Carlos Rios (Huelva, 1991) is the guru of healthy food in Spain. What he says, goes to mass for the ‘realfooders’, which is what he calls his fans. East ‘influencer’ of nutritionism has also launched its own line of products, an app and several books –the latest, ‘Lose fat with real food’ (Paidós)– to combat ultra-processed: foods that contain sugar, refined flour and sunflower, palm or seed oils and that, as a general rule, are high in calories and low in nutrients. The b-side of his rapid rise aroused criticism. The man from Huelva based in Barcelona says that he gets along well, but in October he left Twitter.
Just over four years ago, the difficulties in losing weight of his patients led him to start the crusade. «When I finished my degree, I began to consult in Huelva. I realized that people had no idea about eating healthy and that the environment itself led them to consume ultra-processed foods -explains Ríos-. By raising awareness of what is healthy food, I saw better results.” And he decided to spread his message on social networks to reach more people. He was soon hailed by users as the highest nutritional authority in a panorama loaded with harmful products, which he dubbed the ‘Matrix dictatorship’.
«Matrix’ is everything that leads us to consume badly. Not because there is a conspiracy that seeks to kill us, but because unhealthy food is a business and there are those who earn a lot of money at the expense of the health of those who consume it, “explains the nutritionist. His frontal opposition to the industry has earned him the label of a food extremist by his ‘haters’, that although they are much less than their fans, they are a considerable amount. “A big change in mentality generates strong opposition. I accept it and I get along well, ”says the Huelva.
To a large extent, a portion of the hate he receives on a daily basis is part of creating his latest line of business. Ríos markets its ‘realfooding’ products (real food) since March 2021, when it premiered with a hummus followed by offers of gazpacho, guacamole, bread and spreads. «There are people who may not like that I do well, or that I carry out my activity in a non-free way. They are opinions that I respect but I do not share, ”says the Huelva.
“There is no conspiracy that seeks to kill us, but unhealthy food is a business that moves money”
Until now, the nutritionist had always carried out collaborations with healthy food brands or supermarkets, whether they were free or paid promotions. “At the point I am at, I wanted to develop my own products with good ingredients,” she says. “The day I promote, recommend or sell ultra-processed products my speech will end and it is something I have no intention of,” he settles, tired of the controversy.
“If you have juice with cookies or sugary cereals for breakfast every day, you are frequently putting an unhealthy meal into your body, and that ultimately has an impact on your health,” explains Ríos. His fight is precisely against those ingredients and not against those who criticize him. “There is no demonstrable criticism because none of the products in the realfooding line have ingredients that are bad,” he argues. His dream is to create a ‘realfooding’ supermarket in which to buy without worrying about what ingredients or lies the products hide, but for now, they are satisfied with the products.
His dream is to create a ‘realfooding’ supermarket in which to buy without worries
eat without guilt
At this point, it is likely that the word ultra-processed has begun to sink in and that you begin to view it with some suspicion. Minipoint for realfood. Ríos assures that their consumption must be reduced, but they must not be completely banished either, something that even he himself assures that he does. “When was the last time you ate a bollycao?” we asked him. “Ugh, I neither liked them nor like them, but I could say that I consumed an ultra-processed last week. And I did it without guilt. I know it’s a tiny portion of my overall diet,” he explains.
In his opinion, food is an enjoyment, not just something we should do for health. “But learning to shop and cook will help you enjoy food more,” adds Ríos. That is, in part, his mission on the networks and what he has developed through his application, with which supermarket products are scanned to find out what their rating is on the realfooding scale.
Similarly, Ríos seeks to eliminate the negative connotations of the word diet. On many occasions, it is understood that it is to lose fat, but that is part of an obsession in today’s society that is known as fat phobia. “Everyone has the need to eat healthy and not everyone has to lose weight, so the diet should not always imply weight loss,” settles the nutritionist.
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