GNC stores offer bargains for dietersGeneral Nutrition Centers, or GNC, is hardly known as a haven for budget-minded dieters. This is, after all, the place that will sell you 24 cans of green tea for $53.69 to go along with 60 packets of low-carb fudge for $155.99.

But in my quest to gain weight and build more muscle, I've turned to GNC -- and with the easy combination of a discount card and soon-to-expire clearance items, I've found that shopping at GNC can actually be cheaper than buying junk food at Walmart.

Here's how it works: For $15 per year, you can get a GNC Gold Card, which entitles you to 20% off almost anything (including almost all sale/clearance items) for the first seven days of every month. On top of that, GNC offers deep discounts on soon-to-expire bars, shakes, and other nutritional products. If you buy stuff two months before it expires, you can save a fortune.

For instance, Mix 1 is a very nice smoothie-like drink -- reasonably high protein, lots of vitamins and antioxidants. On Amazon.com, a 12-pack will set you back $25.00 -- $2.08 per drink. Each serving has:
  • 15 grams of premium whey isolate
  • 23 vitamins and minerals
  • 3 servings of fruit/veggies
  • antioxidants = to 4 cups of tea
  • free of lactose, gluten, soy and caffeine
At GNC, I found Mix 1 four-packs that had been priced at $8.99 but had been marked down several more times, all the way down to $1.99. With my Gold Card discount, it came to $1.59 per four-pack, with a free tote bag with each four-pack. That's 40 cents per drink for something that isn't load with high fructose corn syrup and has a good mix of protein and other nutrients.

I also got a nice mix of protein bars for 63 cents each (clearanced to 79 cents plus a 20% discount).

Bottom line? You can actually save money and eat healthier by buying snacks at GNC -- if you know when to shop and what to look for.

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