I remember the first time I stepped foot into a GNC store. I was only about 15, and was just getting in the world of bodybuilding—so naturally I wanted to buy all of the supplements my idols used. I was quickly greeted by a salesman, who promptly convinced me to buy some GNC whey protein.
Fast forward almost a decade, and I’ve seen it all. I’ve sold tens of thousands of dollars worth of supplements in store, and done even more sales in fitness eBooks online. I’ve tried it all, from the well known C4 pre-workout, to the commonplace GNC whey protein, to even steroids and other black market supplements.
…and I’ve learned a lot along the way. I’ve learned how to find the best whey protein, how to get the best prices on supplements, and even how to prepare for bodybuilding photoshoots in record time. The most important thing I’ve learned however, is how to tell the scams apart from the legit shit.
Let me tell you, I’ve wasted THOUSANDS of dollars on pre-workout bunk, testosterone boosting junk, and whey protein scams. Everything I preach is from experience, and before I even begin this article, I’m going to lay the raw, unfiltered truth at your feet: GNC whey protein is a fucking scam.
The Supplement Industry
“That’s not possible,” I can hear people say. “My grandparents grew up recommending GNC! They’re one of the oldest vitamin shops around, aren’t they Jon?” Yep, you’re right. Originally founded in 1935 as a small health food store in downtown Pittsburgh, GNC is now an international corporation that does a whopping $2.54 billion dollars a year in sales.
So how can a company so big be such a scam? Well, that’s exactly HOW they’re able to be such a scam—they’re living off of an 80 year old reputation. Back in the day, GNC was the only supplement store on the block (quite literally), and it wasn’t until the 1970’s that we saw more competitors emerge.
Up until Arnold Schwarzenegger catapulted the bodybuilding world into mainstream consciousness, GNC was the only player on the market. With the emergence of bodybuilders such as Jay Cutler, Kai Greene, Ronnie Coleman, and Phil Heath however, this has changed.
The supplement industry has grown from only around $1 million a year, to a whopping $40 billion a year industry. Since then, companies have come and gone (sometimes in the blink of an eye), but in a world where reputation commands the most respect, only a few remain.
GNC: Why it’s a Scam
Fundamentally, GNC is able to keep scamming people due to its reputation. Being one of the oldest supplement stores in the business, they’ve had almost a century to build up a loyal customer base. Mark my words, though—GNC will go bankrupt within the next decade.
The only reason GNC is still around, despite their overpriced products, is due to their reputation amongst older people. Old John Doe who’s been lifting since 1953 always gets his supplements at GNC, but once this wave of old timers dies off, they won’t have a customer to their name.
In the age of the internet, all you have to do is a little bit of research to find out why GNC whey protein (and GNC itself) is such a scam. A simple price check will show you that they routinely sell the exact same products for nearly double the price as other online retailers.
GNC whey protein is routinely double the price, for half of the quality—and yet they’re able to get away with this, due to their 80 year old reputation. People mindlessly go to GNC, thinking that they’re the same honest company they were in the 1950’s, not realizing that they’ve changed.
What Makes Good Whey?
In order to understand why GNC whey protein is such a scam, you need to understand a few things about whey protein first. Made as a byproduct of cheese production, many farmers eventually realized that they could sell this stuff to bodybuilders due to its high protein content and low caloric content.
Fundamentally, there’s a few things that make or break a good deal on whey protein:
Cost to protein ratio
Source of whey protein
The cost to protein ratio is the vast majority of what to look out for. For those of you who are extremely careful about what you put into your body, and for those of you who have the expendable income to blow $150 on a month’s worth of whey protein, consider checking out my guide to high quality whey protein.
For most everyone else however, we’re just trying to get big. While there are benefits to consuming organic whey protein, or even other forms such as goat’s whey, it won’t make much of a difference unless you’re a high level competitor (think NFL, NBA, IFBB, etc).
Price of GNC Whey Protein
The main thing that makes GNC such a ripoff is its price. It used to be that they only sold GNC products, and didn’t dare lay a hand on third party products. This has since changed, once they realized how much of a scam their own products are, however. I wouldn’t be surprised if 85% of their sales are from third party products.
That being said, let’s take a look at a popular GNC whey protein—their GNC Amp Wheybolic. One container of this costs approximately $60, and contains a whole of 1,000 grams of protein. This makes the protein to cost ratio six cents per gram of protein.
Now, let’s take a look at ON Gold Standard, which is probably the most popular whey protein on the market. One container of this costs about $55, and contains a whole 1,776 grams of protein. This makes the protein to cost ratio about three cents per gram of protein.
In other words, you’re literally paying TWICE as much for GNC whey protein as you are normal whey protein. Not convinced yet, though? Still think GNC is higher quality, and maybe you’re paying for that? Let me lay some supplement knowledge on you, then.
Quality of GNC Whey Protein
One of GNC’s major selling points is the quality of their whey protein—but does it hold true to the test? Well, not really. Glutamine, one of the things they hype up about their products, is an amino acid that’s been shown to help digestion, cell recovery, and other bodily functions.
It turns out though, that ON Gold Standard has whey more (haha, not funny) glutamine per serving than GNC’s Amp Wheybolic. One serving of GNC whey protein has about three grams of glutamine, whereas one serving of ON’s whey protein has four.
“B-but what about all those BCAA’s that GNC puts in their whey protein? Doesn’t that make it better?” someone might ask. Not, really—while it’s true that more BCAA’s is generally better, BCAA’s are ALREADY naturally occurring in whey protein, so you don’t really need to add anymore.
The only thing I’ll give GNC whey protein is that it has an enzyme blend mixed in to help digestion, but even so ON Gold Standard has lactase added for the same purpose. When you buy GNC whey protein, you’re basically paying twice as much for the exact same whey protein. Not good at all.
The Bottom Line
All in all, GNC whey protein is a complete scam by all metrics. It’s got far less protein per serving, despite marketing itself as the champion’s brand of whey. It basically twice as expensive when you look at the protein to cost ratio, and according to reviews it doesn’t even mix well.
The only reason GNC has been able to continue scamming people is due to its old time reputation, but that’s changing very fast. In a world where some college kid can launch a supplement website and pay an Indian pharmaceutical company to manufacture his products, we won’t see GNC around for much longer.
If you’re just starting off in the gym, I recommend you check out my 4 Fundamental Supplements for Building Muscle. It covers basically everything you need to know about what supplements to buy, to get the most bang for your buck, and has a whey protein recommendation as well.
As usual, I hope you guys gained something from the article. Be sure to subscribe for email updates if you want free knowledge and updates. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, feel free to drop a message down below—and as always, I’ll see you next time!
Frequently Asked Questions
❓ Is GNC Whey Protein Any Good?
As someone who has lifted weights for over 10 years and been in the supplement industry before, I can say with 100% certainty that GNC Whey Protein is a complete ripoff. You can get far higher quality protein for far cheaper online.
The only reason GNC is still in business, is because they have a loyal customer base. Many of their customers are older men who have been buying from GNC for decades. Most of the younger crowd knows that GNC is a ripoff and overprices all of their supplements.
❓ What's The Best Whey Protein Powder At GNC?
In short, none of them. You can get far higher quality whey protein for far cheaper elsewhere. That being said, if you have to buy whey protein from GNC, I recommend going with their GNC AMP Pure Isolate Whey Protein, and get the chocolate flavor.
❓ Is GNC Whey Protein A Ripoff?
Absolutely. GNC is notorious for charging twice as much for less, and while they could get away with this when the internet didn't exist, most people now know that you can get supplements and whey protein for far cheaper elsewhere.