Surviving GNC

I’m not a big supplement guy. That may surprise some of you. I was, at one time, a huge supplement guy. Actual bills took a backseat to my goals to find the exact supplement cocktail that would make look like Ronnie Coleman. The only difference between me and him were the supplements. Real food? Please dude. I need more longjack to up the test levels. Electricity is overrated when you need bufferized, twice enhanced, soon to be illegal creatine.

I even worked at a GNC. Not for the money, but for the discount. Really. This was in college and I had a few other jobs, so working 10 hours a week to save an additional 30% made perfect sense. Based on how much money I was blowing at the time, it made sense.

But marriage and kids came along and I had to prioritize. At first I thought my supplement fueled gains would suffer, but I found researching things make prioritizing much easier. Reading actual research instead of magazine ads led me to the conclusion that I was an idiot and that I had wasted a lot of money. Not just in the products, but also in the prices that I was paying. Online shopping became my vehicle for the few supplements that I did purchase. Prices were better and it was delivered to my front door.

However, there are times when circumstances have dictated that I fill the gaps with a trip to GNC. I was in this position just last week.


I entered the store for one reason: a multivitamin. But I was amazed at the enormous amounts of new brands, labels, and products available. My curiosity was piqued. Despite needing just one thing, I began looking around. I thought I should. The most common genre of questions I am asked is about supplements, so why not see the new products that are out there.

What I found was old products in new containers at double the price.

One company in particular with shiny, metallic, industrial looking containers, was especially egregious. Amino acids for 50 bucks. Creatine for 60. I only was made aware of this brand because the sales rep tried to steer me towards it. Why wouldn’t she? She’s gotta make some flow, but I’m not obligated to assist.

Again, I’m not bashing GNC. They provide a service that can be very useful, provided their customers enter the store with information that isn’t from a magazine ad.

Here are some guidelines for choosing a supplement.

1) Is my diet bulletproof? If you think you can out-supplement a poor diet, save your money.

2) Does the use of this supplement support my goals? An endurance athlete taking creatine doesn’t make any sense, and someone taking a weight gainer doesn’t make sense for someone trying to slim down.

3) What does the research say? This doesn’t include customer reviews. Several companies will plant positive reviews on websites to enhance sales. A good resource is the supplement geek.

4) Does it contain a “proprietary blend” or some other type of blend? If the answer is yes, do not use that product. Why? This is a method supplement companies use to disguise ingredients. An example:


5) Is the cost worth it? Ultimately, this is the most important question. I can tell you that most supplements do not meet this threshold. It’s your money. Spend it responsibly.


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