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GNC Review: Is GNC a good source for quality supplements?

We thoroughly explored GNC to give you the pros, cons and all details

Last Updated: Mar 12, 2020

GNC Review

GNC is the 800-pound gorilla of supplement companies. It would take you a long time to browse all of the products across in the ten different departments that make up their sprawling marketplace. Vitamins and minerals, herbal supplements, protein shakes, beauty products, probiotics, even fitness equipment - GNC has it all.

But how do they compare to competition in pricing, quality and customer experience? We thoroughly tested GNC to find out. Here we’ll share everything we learned - the pros and cons and all details - so that you can decide if it’s right for you.

Review Summary

Pros

  • Vast selection of supplements to address a multitude of wellness goals.
  • Very navigable, easy shopping experience.
  • Free shipping on orders over $49.
  • A strong 30-day return policy to ensure satisfaction.
  • GNC ships internationally to nearly a dozen countries.
  • Price match opportunity if you find the same product for less elsewhere.

Cons

  • Customer service sometimes lacking.
  • Their own brands can be pricier than other options elsewhere.
  • Membership rewards program isn’t the most generous.

Bottom Line

GNC is a trusted marketplace that makes shopping easy and offers a huge selection. You’re going to find the product you’re looking for here. They hold their products to high standards in terms of quality, exceeding what you occasionally find elsewhere. For non-GNC brands, you’ll want to do a little research. Our testers didn’t experience any customer service issues, but others have. Despite these complaints, GNC has grown for a reason: they do a good job organizing the host of products they sell, making your shopping experience frictionless. Particularly if you go in knowing a little bit about what you want, we think you’re going to have a very good and successful experience here.

Our Top Picks

GNC

GNC has been in the business for over half a century and offers an extensive selection of its own high-quality products as well as many other brands.

GNC makes it easy to browse, with multiple shopping routes you can take depending on your familiarity with the supplements you’d be interested in. GNC brands are rigorously tested to achieve a high level of quality. Its selection is vast!

Why you should trust us

Innerbody recently celebrated its 20-year anniversary. Over the past two decades, we have helped tens of millions of readers make more informed decisions about staying healthy and living healthier lifestyles.

This review, like all medical-related content on Innerbody, is thoroughly vetted by one or more members of our Medical Review Board for accuracy. Additionally, we extensively analyze each medical service we review. We evaluate the entire patient experience from signing up to receiving medicine in the mail and then offer unbiased, marketing-jargon-free analysis based on the latest scientific evidence and medical standards.

What does GNC offer?

GNC began in 1935 as a small store called Lackzoom in Pittsburgh. They didn’t adopt the name General Nutrition Centers until the late-’50s. Founder David Shakarian grew the business over the decades, eventually making it the giant that GNC is today. In spite of its size now, GNC’s headquarters are actually just a couple blocks from the original store.

GNC offers its own brands of supportive supplements and sells a multitude of other brands as well in a massive online marketplace.

Trust and quality

Customers have relied on GNC to provide top-notch supplements of the highest quality for decades. GNC employs scientists, nutritionists and quality assurance pros to test and maintain the quality of the ingredients that they source from around the world.

In recent years, accounts of GNC’s customer service have varied from positive to negative. There’s no shortage of complaints about the customer care experience, though our testers did not experience any issues. But GNC is a massive company now, and with that kind of size can come the potential for subpar customer service.

Ethics

GNC still sells shark cartilage, as part of their GNC Natural Brand. This is basically inexcusable at this point in time; there’s no scientific justification for it at all. In fact, there are compelling reasons why people shouldn’t consume shark cartilage - it may contain harmful substances, and it contributes to the destruction of ecosystems.

Available products and the GNC shopping experience

With GNC, you have multiple user-friendly ways to browse the plethora of products.

Shop by brand

GNC organizes products by brand, so if you’re already familiar with the brand that you know you want, you can identify its products quickly and place your order. How extensive is the website, you ask? GNC currently carries a staggering 348 different brands.

Here are some of current top-selling products among the non-GNC brands:

If you browse through available products, you’ll begin to notice just how many GNC brands there are here. GNC has over a dozen brands of products, including:

  • GNC
  • GNC AMP
  • GNC Bariatrics
  • GNC Bio-Remedy®
  • GNC Climb
  • GNC Earth Genius™
  • GNC Herbal Plus®
  • GNC Mad Pony
  • GNC Mega Men®
  • GNC milestones®
  • GNC Natural Brand™
  • GNC Pets
  • GNC Preventive Nutrition®
  • GNC Pro Performance®
  • GNC SuperFoods
  • GNC Total Lean®
  • GNC Women’s
  • GNC4U

Best-selling GNC products right now include:

When comparing GNC-branded products to comparable products found elsewhere, our testers notice that the GNC products are often a little pricier. You’re paying for the trusted GNC brand and the sense of security that comes from their reputation for quality control. But you are indeed paying a little more here. For many customers, that’s just fine.

Shop by department

There are other ways to organize your shopping experience as well, if you aren’t sure which brand you want or even what type of product you may need. For instance, let’s say you know you want to buy a high-quality multivitamin or you need to start taking calcium. In these cases, shopping by department would be a good way to begin. You can browse products in the following GNC departments to find what you need:

  • Vitamins & Supplements (where you’ll find multivitamins, mineral supplements and many other products).
  • Protein (powders, bars, drinks and more).
  • Performance (workout and bodybuilding essentials).
  • Herbs & Natural Solutions (featuring an abundance of herbal supplements, CBD products and more).
  • Digestion (for those who want to buy probiotics or cleanses).
  • Superfoods & Green Foods (think spirulina, celery powder, matcha, etc).
  • Weight Management (meal replacements, keto-friendly products, fat burning products).
  • Beauty & Skin Care (collagen, lotions, hair products and more).
  • Food & Drink (health foods, nutritional bars and drinks).
  • Equipment & Accessories (braces, fitness equipment and other products).

Shop by goal

Alternately, you can shop for products based on your underlying wellness goal. The most popular goals are featured prominently - these include:

  • Men’s Health
  • Women’s Health
  • Weight Management
  • Brain & Memory Support
  • Hair, Skin & Nails
  • Immune Support
  • Energy Support
  • Mental Focus
  • Cardiovascular Support
  • Bone Support

Shopping by goal can present you with a cross-departmental of related products. Here is the full list of goal sections that GNC provides:

  • Blood Sugar Support
  • Bone Support
  • Brain & Memory Support
  • Build Muscle, Exercise & Workout Support
  • Cardiovascular Support
  • Children’s Support
  • Cleanse & Detox
  • Digestive Health
  • Endurance Support
  • Energy Support
  • Eye Health
  • Hair, Skin & Nails
  • Healthy Aging
  • Healthy Eating
  • Immune Support
  • Intimate Well-being
  • Joint & Muscle Support
  • Men’s Health
  • Menopause Support
  • Mental Focus
  • Mood Support
  • Prenatal Health
  • Prostate Health
  • Seasonal and Homeopathic Allergy & Sinus
  • Sleep Aid
  • Stress Management
  • Training Support
  • Weight Management
  • Women’s Health

Our testers believe that there are limits to how useful this type of shopping can be, by itself. If a customer only has a broad health goal and hasn’t done much research or consulted with a healthcare professional, knowing what’s best for him or her to buy can be difficult. GNC’s website contains numerous customer reviews, which can greatly help when making purchasing decisions. But your shopping experience will be greatly enhanced if you discuss with a primary care professional in advance and/or do careful research prior to purchasing.

GNC Learning Center

You can learn more about available GNC products and gain clarity about constructive supplementing by visiting their Learning Center. Here, GNC has curated a useful assortment of advice pieces ranging in subject from multivitamins to weight management, sports, general health, and even healthy recipes. Our testers found this section quite useful. But most importantly, always let your primary care professional know that you are considering or actively taking a new supplement.

Auto-deliver

As a GNC shopper, you can choose to auto-deliver, which automatically renews your supply of a product. Doing so will allow you to enjoy additional savings of 10% as well as free shipping. You can set up auto-deliver for the products you routinely need. GNC allows you to set the schedule that works for you.

Membership and personalization

myGNC Rewards

Free membership in myGNC Rewards brings the opportunity to save $5 each time you spend $150. In our experience, this is OK, but not a fantastic opportunity compared to other websites offering a bit more of a reward for loyalty. Free membership also brings the opportunity to take advantage of “Bonus Points Events” - specific times when each dollar you spend will translate to more than just 1 point.

You might as well sign up, because it’s free! This amounts to a 3% savings once your spending on GNC adds up to $150.

myGNC PRO Access

GNC also offers a paid membership called myGNC PRO Access. This costs $39.99 annually. For that membership fee, you’ll get free expedited shipping on all orders. You also get access to “Pro Days”, which are events where only Pro members can take advantage of good savings. In our opinion, this membership only makes sense if you’ve browsed GNC and anticipate ordering a fair bit from them during the course of a year.

GNC4U

GNC4U is an intriguing way to personalize your supplements experience with a guiding hand from GNC, in partnership with Vitagene. (Read our separate Vitagene review for more details about them.) The goal is to provide you with the ideal products to support your activity and nutritional needs. Here’s how it works:

1. Take the questionnaire.

Start by answering a questionnaire about your health goals, your current health and lifestyle, and your nutrition. GNC4U will ask you to select health symptoms you experience (for instance, migraine, hypertension, etc). You’ll also be asked about your age, weight, height and family medical history.

2. DNA testing or existing test results?

Optionally, if you’ve taken a DNA test, you can privately upload your results. Or you can get your DNA tested via Vitagene, in order for them to use this information to better tailor your supplements regimen.

3. Your recommendations delivered via email.

GNC4U anc Vitagene take all of this information and present you with a supplement regimen proposed for your specific needs and lifestyle.

4. If it looks good to you, start ordering.

If you choose to accept this regimen, you’ll get a delivery each month containing your customized daily packets of supplements from GNC.

This is truly exciting stuff, the intersection between genetics and nutrition and health. But in many ways, we’re still at the start of developing better understanding of it, and so you should take some of this with a grain of salt. Also, in our opinion you simply can’t escape the fact that you’re entrusting these decisions to the companies directly profiting from your purchase of the products. They have an incentive to market additional products to you. We don’t find this to be the ideal way to make decisions about what supplements you take. Those decisions should be based on your own careful research and consultation with your primary care professional.

Shipping and returns

Orders are processed on the day you order them, as long as you’re ordering before 4pm EST. For most locations in the United States, GNC will offer you several shipping options at checkout:

  • Ground
  • Third Day
  • Second Day
  • Overnight

GNC also gives you the ability to track your order as it is en route, though the practicality of this depends on the shipment option you choose and the subsequent carrier who will deliver your package.

For international customers, GNC currently can ship to the following countries:

  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Canada
  • Mainland China
  • Italy
  • Netherlands
  • Portugal
  • Spain
  • Switzerland

Returns

If you’re not satisfied by a product, whether it’s unopened or you’ve opened and tried it, you can return the product to GNC with the proper paperwork for your money back within 30 days. That’s a good guarantee of your satisfaction with the product.

What criteria do we use to evaluate home health products and services?

We customize our evaluation criteria depending on the type and nature of the health service or product. For most products and services, we have five areas that we use for our evaluations, including:

Quality: How well does the company deliver its core service(s) to the customer? Is the quality of the product or service high enough that we would recommend it to loved ones without hesitation? Does the company have a high quality medical review board with oversight? Are their treatment options or products FDA-approved?

Value: Are you getting your money’s worth? Are there any hidden costs or charges? Does the provider offer discounts or free services to our readers?

Customer Support: How well does the company provide information about its product or service? How clearly are options presented?

Privacy: Are all products sent in discreet packaging? Will your data be stored securely? Could your data ever be shared without your permission?

Speed: How fast will you receive your product from the moment you click “buy?” Are the waiting times stated by the company accurate and consistent?

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