I have been working in the health and fitness industry for over ten years and one of the common questions I get is where is the best place to buy supplements. There are a ton of great options these days to purchase supplements online (ahem… Suppz.com) – but there is 1 place that I recommend you stay far away from, and that is GNC.
GNC used to be the premium stop for bodybuilding supplements but now that purchasing supplements online has become so powerful, they have had to employ shady strategies to stay in business and increase the mark up.
This article is nothing personal about GNC. I have shopped there in the past but I will never shop at a GNC again for a number of reasons.
1. Overprice and Ineffective Supplements
One of my biggest complains against GNC is that they push ineffective and overpriced supplements such as Force Factor and Test X180.
These two supplements are marketed as powerful muscle building and testosterone boosting supplements and cost well over 50 dollars for a less than 30 day serving.
While there are a few decent ingredients in each – they are both “proprietary blend” supplements meaning that you don’t even know how much of each active ingredient you are getting.
This is done by supplement companies to increase the markup and use a lot of cheap filler ingredients such as corn starch and L-Lysine.
This is a trick used by many of the shady supplement companies so they can increase their marketing budget and persuade more helpless.
Take Test X180 for example. They claim that Fenugreek extract, Tribulus, and Cordyceps are the magic ingredients in their powerful test booster. If this is the case you would be far better buying each active ingredient in its whole natural form on Amazon where you could save a ton of money and get in a much higher dose per serving.
Don’t fall prey to the overhyped and overpriced Proprietary blends they push.
2. Same Products as Suppz, Higher Prices
I was out of town in Wisconsin and out of protein powder and pre workout and needed it THAT DAY so I was forced to step foot in a GNC about 6 months ago. I was looking for some creatine and beef protein isolate.
I was mortified by the prices I saw in the store. The Beef Protein isolate that I normally buy which costs me about $28 online was selling for $42.
A popular pre workout that I take (GAT Nitraflex) was selling for nearly 50 dollars. It sells at Suppz.com for $31.99!
I couldn’t even find pure Micronized Creatine because they were trying to sell me some fancy overpriced creatine HCL.
Overall it was a horrible experience and I did not see one single item for sale in the store that would come close to online prices.
3. They Don’t Sell Quality Brands
The best supplements in the world are going to tell you exactly what is included and in what quantity. When you are purchasing a protein, pre workout, test booster, fat burner, etc you should know exactly how much of each active ingredient is included.
The reason you won’t find many of these supplements in GNC is because they cost more to manufacture and produce. When you manufacture a proprietary blend supplement it costs far less because you have skimped out on the quality ingredients that actually give the user results.
The supplement companies that have the best chance of selling products in GNC are the ones that are manufactured for the cheapest because they can have the highest markup.
One popular supplement company recently tried pushing their high quality line of bodybuilding supplements into GNC, but failed miserably because GNC lowballed them so hard on the price.
This makes it really hard for the guys that actually produce legitimate and high quality products to be featured in GNC.
ALL GNC cares about is their profit margin because they know the only way they can stay in business with the growing online market is to maximize the profit on each product sold. This should be a major red flag as a consumer to stay away from GNC!
4. Gold Card Scam
GNC members get a fancy discount called a “Gold Card.” This gives them 20 percent off of items that are marked up by well over 20 percent.
You are paying 10 dollars a month to purchase low quality supplements that are marked up by well over the 20 percent discount.
Compare the price you pay online to the “Gold Card Discount” and it is still no comparison. You are just donating 120 dollars of profit per year to the GNC Corporation so they can continue to spend more money marketing and persuading the average consumer to buy their shitty and overpriced supplements.
5. The Employees
I went to a GNC somewhere in Florida (Don’t want to name the city or call out the employee) – but this guy was literally 100 lbs overweight. What can someone 100 lbs overweight tell me about building muscle and losing weight?
To make matters worse, the guy criticized me on my purchase of “no filler added” beef protein and tried to sell me a crappy whey concentrate because it “tasted better” and was “more popular.”
Out of all the GNC stores I have ever been to, most of the employees fall into one of 2 categories. They are clearly on steroids and hate their life because they don’t have the talent to be a paid bodybuilder or endorsed athlete and are sitting behind the counter making 12 dollars an hour, or they are completely out of shape and full of opinions on what supplements will give you great results.
6. Can’t Buy the Simple Stuff that actually Works
Another huge issue with GNC is they don’t sell the simple stuff that actually works because they can’t make as much profit on it. I am a fitness model and study exercise science and supplement science a great deal.
Sometimes I make my own special recovery and pre workout blends and just buy the active individual ingredients by themselves. If you are looking to purchase pure Creatine, Dextrose, BCAA, Glutamine, L-Citrulline, Etc you will not find it at GNC. They do once in a while sell GNC Brand creatine but once again you can find it way cheaper online.
They would much rather sell you a 35 dollar tub of flavored BCAA’s in a proprietary blend than sell you pure BCAA’s for far less. Once again – GNC doesn’t care about your health and fitness. They care about your profit margin and how cheap they can acquire a new customer for. To there defense – this is obviously the goal of most businesses, but do you want to put your health and fitness in the hands of a company clearly on the decline trying to employ shady tactics to stay in business in the internet era? I didn’t think so.
Have you ever been curious why GNC employees seem to push certain supplements over others? GNC employees work on a shady commission structure that rewards them by selling the supplement line with the highest profit margin.
GNC clearly has exclusive deals with certain supplement lines.
This means that they are trying to sell you the products that give them the best commission – not the best results.
GNC employees can smell blood in the water when a person comes in with little knowledge of supplements and fitness. They will reverse engineer their sales pitch to sell you the product they will make the most money on – plain and simple.
I have nothing personal against GNC. I understand they are a company trying to make money and survive just like any other. This article is solely written to educate the average consumer before they are persuaded to buy overpriced and ineffective products.
The health and supplement industry clearly takes advantage of the average consumers lack of knowledge and it is my responsibility as an expert in this field to relay good information as much as possible!
What’s your biggest turn-off about GNC?