Power Nutrition Kitchen
An inside look into the Kitchen of Powerlifting’s Hottest Middleweight Star
By Anthony Ricciuto
Powerlifting is a sport of constant change. Whether it is the hottest current training system, that new super-duper squat suit, or the latest apparatus to help you bench more, powerlifters are always looking for that extra edge. The fact is powerlifters in large numbers are taking heed to all the ranting that I have been doing over the last few years and are actually putting some faith in what I have been preaching. Finally, lifters are turning in those old horrendous nutritional blunders to actually eating like true athletes. This in part is not just due to my monthly babbling but is also due to the fact that they have seen that their favorite lifters have incorporated my nutritional methodology. Most importantly they have seen it work with these world-class lifters firsthand in the pages of this magazine. I thought for this month’s column I would do something a little different. You usually get a question and answer column or an article about specific foods or supplements. Not this month. This month I am going to take you into the kitchen of the world’s top middleweight powerlifter to ever grace the powerlifting stages. That kitchen is owned by none other than Phil “Squatzilla” Harrington. You have seen him in the pages of Powerlifting USA and have seen him compete with the utmost ferocity on the platform. Phil’s 900 pound squat at 181 is ranked the highest all-time record and this has brought his name into the bright lights of powerlifting champions. Phil has been one of my personal clients for over 3 years and during this time he has seen some unbelievable changes in his body composition but also his lifts. Phil is one of the most dedicated students that I have ever had the pleasure to work with and I will take you inside this superstar’s kitchen to see what fuels this superhuman lifting machine.
Phil on the Cover of Monster Muscle Magazine
Phil takes protein very seriously and that is why you won’t find him going more than a couple of hours without wolfing down either a protein shake or a power-packed protein meal. Phil loves to eat meat and fish so one thing I made sure is that he incorporates variety in his nutrition plan. Here is a look at some of the protein sources that Phil uses to pack on muscle and to help him recover from those gut-busting workouts.
Oh yeah, there is quite nothing like a nice big lean steak! If you want the beef then you got to eat the beef. That’s right and Phil downs enough beef to keep all the cattle farmers in the northwest in business. Phil prefers either a nice lean T-bone steak or when he wants to do it up a bit he will go for a fillet mignon. Red meat is high in protein and let’s not forget creatine as well. There is something about red meat that builds muscle and strength like no other. The main thing to remember is that fatty cuts should be avoided and the leanest of cuts should be incorporated into your plan.
Phil Loves his Steak!
Lean Ground Turkey Breast
Turkey is not only for thanksgiving so Phil uses this quite heavily in his nutrition plan. Phil likes to make meatballs out of them or he uses it in his stir fry mixes to jack up the protein. Turkey is one of the leanest sources of protein in existence and one of the highest in protein per gram of weight. Not taking advantage of this super protein food is just not smart and that is why Phil incorporates it into his plan at least a few times per week.
Well, you were probably very surprised to see this here but you shouldn’t. Bison is one of the best sources of protein and is also very lean as well. Not too many people are into this simply because they don’t know about it. It tastes very similar to beef yet the meat is more tender and softer. I myself am very big on bison for my clients as it provides variety and at the same time possesses an excellent amino acid spectrum for strength athletes.
I have written about salmon many times in the past. Salmon is another excellent source of protein for the strength athlete. Another benefit to this king of fish is the fact that it is high in Omega 3 fats. For those of you who have read my articles in the past you all know that I am a big believer in the benefits of fish fats due to their high EPA and DHA Omega 3 content. Phil gets in some salmon at least 3-4 times per week to make sure that he is getting is some solid EFA’s on top of his fish oil supplementation that he uses in his plan.
Phil can’t get enough Salmon!
Yes, chicken breasts are also on this list. Even though Phil doesn’t eat as many of them as a competitive bodybuilder he still takes them in at least once daily. On days that he can handle a little more, he may up them up to three of his meals. Of course, Phil uses skinless boneless breasts to make sure that he is getting a high source of protein without the fat that is in the skin.
Extra Lean Ground beef
This is the other form of beef that Phil takes in regularly. Not even a king can eat just steak all day long sometimes you need a little variety. Phil loves beef no matter what the form it is in. Phil likes using this in his stir-fries or adds it to some rice to make a nice hearty carb-rich power meal.
Whole Eggs and Pasteurized Liquid Egg Whites
Eggs which were at one time thought of as nature’s perfect food is also found in Phil’s fridge. Phil consumes both whole eggs as well as egg white omelets. Due to the high-quality protein found in eggs, Phil makes sure that he gets them in several days a week. Phil may make omelets and other times he will boil up 6-12 eggs and bring them with him so he can munch on them throughout the day as a snack.
Now don’t be a cottage cheese hater. I know many of you think of fat 50-year-old women in a leotard doing a little Richard Simons “Sweating to the Oldies” when you think of cottage cheese in your diet plan but you shouldn’t. Cottage cheese is one of the best sources of protein for the strength athlete and this is why Phil consumes up to one full tub per day. Yes, you heard that right. Cottage cheese is high in casein protein, which is a slow-digesting protein that clots in your stomach releasing the amino acids over close to 6 hours. This is exactly what you need to take in at bedtime. Phil will add some yogurt or fruit to it as this really helps make it palatable.
Low Fat Cheddar/Swiss/Parmesan and Feta Cheeses
Phil also loves cheese but he makes sure to get the low-fat versions. This way he gets all the protein that he needs from them but limits the saturated fat that usually accompanies most cheese. He uses the Parmesan on his pasta dishes, the Feta and Cheddar in his salads, and the Swiss in his omelets.
If you have been an avid reader of my column you all know that you need carbohydrates to fuel you through your workouts. They provide the body with an optimal fuel source and also play a role in glycogen replenishment and recovery. Phil consumes plenty of carbs in his nutrition plan but most importantly is the quality, not the quantity that he uses to fuel his granite physique. Let’s take a quick look at Phil’s top choices for both before and after his training sessions.
Yams and Sweet Potatoes
Now before Phil started working with me he had never tried a sweet potato before. Can you imagine that? Well once I got Phil to give them a try he has been addicted to them eating them almost daily. They are one of the most highly consumed carb choices for Phil because they are great low glycemic carbs that will give you a sustained energy release throughout the day. Phil will usually bake them and eat them mashed as this helps to get more in without getting full. This is an excellent fuel source for the powerlifter and Phil is living proof of how good they are for your training.
Phil Fuels His Endurance with Yams!
Yes, you heard that right Phil loves his porridge in the morning, in the afternoon, and all day long. Yes, this is another one of Phil’s favorite carb choices, and for a man that squats 900 pounds at 181 pounds could he be wrong? You bet your candy ass he isn’t! Phil likes to have this for breakfast several days per week. He will throw in some fruit or yogurt to spice it up a little. Other times Phil will add this right to his protein shakes in the blender and he actually drinks it down in one shot. Now that’s a man’s man and if you want to step up to the plate you better start going the extra mile like Phil.
I wrote an article several years ago about ancient grains. Phil is another one of the wise that took heed to my rantings and incorporates them into his nutrition plan. Phil loves quinoa as do many of the athletes that start incorporating these different grains into their nutrition plan. He will use it instead of rice in some of the dishes that he makes. He also uses some millet and amaranth from time to time to change things up but quinoa is his staple food choice.
Cream of Wheat and Cream of Rice
Oh, yea your mother was right all along when she would force that cream of wheat down your throat back when you were nothing more than a big brat. Well if you are looking to get strong and energized then cream of wheat and rice should also be part of your nutrition plan. Phil utilizes both of these in his plan changing them up according to his particular taste. Here again, he throws in different fruits or he will mix in some of his favorite chocolate protein Nitrean to make it a high carb and high protein breakfast.
12 Grain/ Flax Bread/Rye and Whole Wheat Pitas
Yes inside Phil’s bread box you will find different types of bread. One form that you won’t find though is white bread in any form. Since Phil knows that white bread is a refined carb and is equivalent to eating a bowl of sugar you know that it won’t be found anywhere near his home. Here he uses the bread to make different sandwiches with chicken breasts or turkey. He may also use a couple of slices of Rye bread with his egg white omelet to round things out.
Brown rice is another staple that you will find in Phil’s kitchen. He will eat this almost daily to help provide his body with the energy he needs to energize him through his tough workouts. He consumes the brown version of the white version since it has a lower Glycemic Index and provides him with a more sustained energy release. It also contains more fiber and will have less chance to be stored as fat than the white variety.
Phil also likes to incorporate baked potatoes into his nutritional arsenal. Since these are a high glycemic index carb choice these are eaten after his training sessions to help replenish his muscle glycogen stores. He usually combines them with Chicken breasts or sometimes adds it to one of his T-bone steak dinners as the perfect side dish.
Phil Squatted over 900 at 181!
Whole Wheat Pasta
Here is another food that Phil uses heavily in his nutrition plan to make sure that his muscle glycogen stores are filled to the max for his killer training sessions. He will consume this for many different meals the day prior to his squat workouts to help him sustain the endurance he needs to handle the ever-increasing volume workload that he must endure to continually increase his 1 rep max. He will use a homemade tomato sauce and maybe throw a little low-fat parmesan cheese on to add in a little flavor.
This article wouldn’t be complete without a section on the different fat choices Phil incorporates into his nutrition plan. Powerlifters are finally opening their eyes to the many benefits that healthy fats can have on their health and performance. Lifters have also learned to reduce their intake of Saturated and Trans Fats in their diet due to the many diseases that they contribute to. Fats are not the necessary evil that they were once thought of. Knowing which ones to incorporate into your nutrition plan and which ones to limit can make a night and day difference in your health and performance.
This is just one of the many different fats that Phil has bottled up in his kitchen. If you have read my articles in the past then you already know that Extra Virgin Olive Oil is high in Omega 9 Monounsaturated fats as well as Oleic Acid. The fact that it is excellent for lowering your cholesterol and keeping your arterial valves supple is just one of the reasons why it is incorporated in his plan. Phil uses this to baste his chicken or he applies it to his salads and vegetables to provide his body with increased calories and healthy fats.
Olive Oil is a Must-Have for Phil!
Udo’s Ultimate Blend
This is another oil that you will find in Phil’s pantry cupboard. This is a combination of Omega 3-6-9 oil which is great to prevent any deficiencies. Phil sometimes puts this into his protein shakes or uses it as a dressing on his salads when he is not using Olive Oil.
Herring and Salmon Oil
The way I rant and rave about fish oil will guarantee that a bottle of it is in Phil’s fridge. Phil uses many tablespoons daily of this to supply his body the much-needed Omega 3 Fats that are essential for his success. The training that he does puts tremendous strain on his joints and tendons and he needs the powerful anti-inflammatory effect that these healthy fats have. Phil will alternate this in his protein shakes or he will just down it on a spoon.
Almonds and Cashews
Here is one of the foods that Phil likes to snack on. Yes you won’t see Phil’ curling up on the couch watching his favorite movies sucking back potato chips and ice cream. His dialed in abs and chiseled physique is a testament to that fact. These nuts provide his body with an abundance of calories that he needs to sustain his super-fast metabolism. They also provide him with the much needed Monounsaturated fats that his body craves since his other main source is Olive Oil.
Phil loves to add a couple of ripe bananas to his protein shakes especially post-workout. Phil will consume up to 3-4 per day after his training session is over. He is also big on them during his “Reloading Phase” after he has made weight for a contest to provide his body with energy as well as valuable electrolytes like potassium.
This is another food that Phil likes to snack on. Like I said before you won’t find him munching on Cheetos or other junk foods. Phil’s body is a well-tuned machine and if it’s not going to affect his performance you can be sure that he isn’t going to stick it in his mouth. The fact that he looks like a competitive bodybuilder just a few weeks out from competition year-round is proof that he is dialing his nutrition plan constantly to maximize his strength and muscle mass. He will add them to other fruits to make a fruit salad or he will throw them on his green salad to spice things up a little.
These three types of berries are also a Harrington trademark for sure. When it’s time to down that big bowl of oatmeal or cream of rice you can be sure that he is going to be lacing it with a nice bowl of berries to compliment it so it is much easier on the palate. He will alternate these according to what his taste is and what is currently in season.
Here are another one of Phil’s favorite fruits. He sometimes eats this with a protein shake before training to get in some fast-acting carbs or he may add it to his oatmeal or cream of rice to add some flavor.
This is one of the best low GI fruits that you can have. Phil knows the deal and that is why he is always stocked up. This makes one of the best breakfast fruits around to give you a sustained energy release throughout the day.
Well if it made Popeye strong and Phil is eating plenty of it maybe we have something that we should all look at here. Phil uses a lot of spinach in his nutrition plan because it is one of the best green vegetables around. It provides him with fiber and nutrients and is a base for the many salads that he consumes daily.
Phil’s Top Choice for Green Goodness!
Phil uses these as yet another food that he likes to munch on when he feels like nibbling on something. They provide him a healthy dose of fiber along with some much-needed Beta Carotene. He will either eat them straight or he will dice them up and include them on his salads.
This is the other green base that Phil uses for his salads when he is not using spinach. Phil knows that Iceberg lettuce provides just about nil nutrients so he is always looking to maximize his nutrient intake even when it comes to something as simple as a salad. Phil will alternate this or he may use this exclusively for a few weeks until he switches things up again.
These are another vegetable that Phil like do dice up and include in his salads. He also likes to include them in his omelets as well to provide that extra flavor and texture needed to make all those egg white omelets he consumes not so boring.
This is another favorite of Phil’s top choices in vegetables. He will dice them up to add to his salad or he will cut them in slices and add them to his Turkey Pitas. Phil will consume usually at least one full cucumber per day over the course of his many meals.
This is another staple in his plan as well. Phil uses them in his salads and also dices them up and puts them in his omelets. He also will slice them up to add to his chicken breast sandwiches on Flax bread which is another one of his lunchtime favorites.
Stir Fry Vegetables
Phil will have several different bags of frozen and fresh stir fry vegetables available to him at all times. There is no single meal that he consumes that doesn’t have some sort of veggie included in it so with this in mind he has to stock enough to feed a small army. Hell Phil probably eats more vegetables in a week than most of you other powerlifters consumed throughout the ’90s. This is another week point of most lifters since they don’t consume an adequate intake of vegetables. Phil knows how important they are for digestion, antioxidant protection, and keeping him healthy so you can be sure that he goes the extra mile (unlike most of you reading this) to get them inconsistently in his nutrition plan.
Balsamic Vinegar/ Apple Cider Vinegar
These are just a couple of the different kinds of vinegar that Phil uses to decorate his salads with. It will help to add in some nice flavor especially when combined with his olive oil.
With the amount of chicken breasts that Phil consumes on a daily basis, you better have some good old BBQ sauce on hand to take the edge off. Phil uses this to baste his chicken breasts or to add flavor to his different stir fry dishes.
Low Sugar Ketchup
Here is another one that Phil loves. Ketchup sure does taste good but there is a ton of sugar in it. So to maximize taste without taking in all those harmful sugars Phil uses low sugar ketchup this way he can still pour it on his eggs without having to worry about the consequences.
Sun-Dried Tomato seasoning
This is just another seasoning that Phil will douse on just about anything. He throws it in his salads as well as his chicken breasts to help spice things up to the next level.
What powerlifting kitchen would be complete without a can of Pam cooking spray? Phil uses this when he is using his good old George Forman Grill grilling up some type of meat or in his frying pan when he doing up some of his famous omelets.
Water is the key to life so you better be getting it in if you want to have any powerlifting success. Phil fully understands how important it is to fully hydrate his muscle cells for optimal performance. That is why he drinks 1-2 gallons of water per day. Yes, you heard that right! Of course, it is not tap water but purified water to make sure toxins and chemicals have been removed.
I have praised the benefits of green tea for a long time now and Phil is not one to take my advice for mere ramblings. This is why he drinks several cups of Japanese organic green tea daily to help keep his immune system strong, fight free radical production, and burn fat.
Phil Loves Green Tea and Drinks it All Day Long!
Now trying to get down 1-2 gallons of water per day can be quite a chore. Just all the bathroom visits alone would be enough to tire out most powerlifters. Phil from time to time incorporates Crystal Lite in his water to help get it all down. It is much easier to drink something that tastes good. Phil just loves sweet tea so you can be sure to find several of the Crystal Lite Iced Tea packets sitting in his cupboard.
We all know that milk does a body good and Phil just loves it in his protein shakes. Phil uses skim milk because he doesn’t want the extra saturated fat to blur his abs and also slow down his digestion time. He will usually use 2 cups in each of his protein shakes as well he uses some in his breakfast dishes.
You will also find in Phil’s kitchen a multitude of different supplements. These advanced formulas help Phil to supplement his nutrition plan to make sure that he is going to maximize his performance from every angle possible. Phil understands the benefits of supplements and how they play a role in taking your performance above and beyond what you could do with mere food. Here are some of the supplements that you will find in Phil’s cupboard so take note.
Phil’s protein of choice is Nitrean from At Large Nutrition. This formula is an advanced protein matrix to provide the body with both slow and fast-acting proteins. This gives Phil the right combinations of proteins and provides an excellent spectrum of amino acids. Phil drinks 4-5 protein shakes per day to help pack on muscle and to keep his strength on the up and up. Even with Phil’s ravenous appetitive he still would not be able to physically eat all the protein his body needs to enable him to squat and recover from using over 900 pounds in training. Nitrean is an excellent formula and this is why several of my elite athletes use it in their supplement plan. Phil absolutely loves the taste of the chocolate Nitrean and this makes it easy for him to get in the many shakes he consumes each day.
Phil is also a big believer in ETS. He has found that it helps him recover at a super-fast rate. The way that he trains with the intensity of a lion would cause him to need a supplement that could take his recovery over the top. ETS is that supplement and Phil is a heavy user of it consuming it daily while jacking up the dose in his pre-contest phase.
You will also find a multivitamin in his cupboard as all powerlifters should have in theirs. Phil uses Multi Plus to help him get in a complete spectrum of micronutrients so that he doesn’t have any deficiencies. Since his intense training style will rapidly deplete them, Multi Plus is a much-needed supplement to make sure his vitamins and minerals are topped up.
Phil uses a product called Creatine 500 to help replenish his ATP stores as well as help him increase cell volumization. This product has helped keep his weight up as well as help pack on valuable weight after weigh-ins before a meet. Phil cycles this during his training program and increases the dosage as a contest approaches.
Phil is as Jacked as he is Strong!
Well, here you have it folks a look inside the kitchen of powerlifting’s top middleweight squatter. You may have hoped to see some junk food here only to make yourself feel better about all the garbage that you eat, but it isn’t going to happen. Phil treats his body like a temple only putting inside it what will benefit him in his quest for that 1000 pound squat. I will be doing a full article series on Phil in the near future but I thought you would like a quick glimpse into the kitchen that fuels his intense training sessions and world records on the platform. If you don’t have the above-mentioned foods in your kitchen then you better give your head a shake and get with the program here. You are what you eat so if you look like a fat out of shape lifter you just maybe one. Just one look at Phil’s diced abs and chiseled pecs shows the truth to his nutrition and supplementation magic. Take it from me if you want to look and lift like Phil you better start eating like him because if you don’t I guarantee you won’t even stand a chance when it’s time to step up on the platform against him.
For those of you interested in knowing more about the Nutrition XP3 program feel free to contact me at
For those looking to find out about the line of supplements that Phil uses you can find out more information at