As I’ve mentioned before, a trip to GNC kind of freaks me out. There are so many choices and options that I usually end up heading straight to the whole-food area, looking at the bags of chia seeds and goji berries and get on my merry little way. However, when GNC hit us up to try its own line of Total Lean products, I thought, “Why not?” After all, I know ya’ll are always looking for good-tasting protein-rich products that taste good and are lower in the calorie department. And that’s pretty much exactly why this line was created: to get lean. So—wait for it—lean on me for my honest thoughts and review!
(That was a pretty lame pun, right? Oh, well.)
GNC Total Lean Lean Shake 25
We’re clearly not into doing the one-shake-for-lunch, one-shake-for-dinner thing (which is the plan this product comes with), but I do see the benefit of having a protein powder that can double as a meal for times when you either need a heartier snack or need a quick breakfast that will get you out the door and fast. The GNC Total Lean Shake 25 gets its name from its 25 grams of protein (that’s a nice amount, eh?), and also boasts eight grams of fiber (from oat bran) to keep you full (and make your poop awesome) and 24 vitamins and minerals. With 200 calories in each two-scoop serving, there are three grams of fat and three grams of sugar. Sucralose (aka Splenda) is the sweetener.
I tried the French Vanilla flavor in this one, and liked the taste, although it’s certainly very vanilla-y and very sweet, even with water. Blending up some kale or spinach and some berries with this one was my favorite concoction and kind of reminded me of this protein powder, for better or worse. The ingredient list on this one is long, and there are A LOT of words you can’t pronounce—which is never a good sign in my book. But I have to admit that the mix of protein and fiber does keep you fuller longer than most protein powders. So there’s that.
Up next were the GNC Total Lean Breakfast Squares. And let’s just say, they hit my sweet spot with these. Remember how I had that unhealthy addiction to Pop-Tarts back in college? Well, these aren’t really that much like Pop-Tarts in style, but the Iced Cinnamon Bun flavor (they also come in Oatmeal Chocolate Chip and Strawberries & Cream) I tried tasted an awful lot like Brown Sugar Cinnamon ones, which is kind of like giving a crack-addict crack. But a healthier version of crack. (Me being the crackhead, and the crack being Pop-Tarts, in case that was unclear.)
These taste super sweet and although they aren’t very big, they are dense and pretty filling. With 160 calories a square, 12 grams of protein, 10 grams of fiber and five grams of sugar, I guess that’s no surprise though. That’s a lot of fiber. And just a warning, if you’re a crackhead—I mean a Brown Sugar Cinnamon Pop-Tartss addict like me—just know that you will pay the digestive price of eating more than one in a day, unless you have a fiber-proof digestive tract. (Which I clearly do not.) Like the GNC Total Lean Shake, these have a longer ingredient list than I like. But, I’d still rather eat one than a Pop-Tart.
Bringing up the rear here (quick, someone make a booty joke!), was the Lean Bar. Like the other GNC Total Lean products we tried, this one was dense, filling and super sweet. I tried Vanilla Zest, which would have been way too sweet had it not been for the slight lemon zest flavor mixed in. (I will admit that the little bit of icing on it is pretty darn delicious.)
These are about half the size of most of the protein bars you’re probably used to eating, so know that opening the much-larger packaging is kind of a let down. However, they’re like a little rock. Filled with 160 calories, nine grams of protein and six grams of fiber, these also contain 50 milligrams of caffeine for an extra little pick-me-up. Like the others, they come with a longer, harder-to-pronounce ingredient list than what I prefer, but they work at filling you up for a few hours and make for a filling and satisfying snack post-workout.
Have you tried any of the GNC Total Lean products? Will you sacrifice a more natural ingredient list for a product that really fills you up? Dish! —Jenn