It’s time to talk about where to buy your supplements if you choose to use them.  For what it’s worth, this article applies to USA only.  I honestly don’t feel like doing the research for each and every country.

Brick and mortar stores (GNC, Vitamin Shoppe, Complete Nutrition, others) – I’ve yet to see any chain store that is worth going to.  They are overpriced vs online retailers by as much as 50% for just about everything.  Unless you need something ASAP and are willing to overpay, there is literally no reason to go to any of these places.  Selection is generally terrible and restricted to the many huge brands that don’t make very effective products.  I haven’t even run into a sale that is worth dealing with.

I’ve touched on this elsewhere, but their salesmen are terrible.  Most are uninformed, and even more are just plain biased.  They get paid on commission for certain companies and products and will push you to use those more often than not.  Of course, the more things you buy, the more they get paid.  They will make it seem like you need this, that, and the other thing when that is rarely the case.   I’ve seen them give extremely unsafe advice before, to the peril of friends of mine.

Just stay away from these places.

Online Buying

An enormous portion of the supplement industry is moved online.  Up and coming brands as well as some very established ones can only be found on the net.  Even for brands you can find in brick and mortar stores, you’re saving an immense amount by buying online.  Generally, shipping prices are very fair, even on heavy proteins (many have flat rate shipping).  This isn’t necessarily a comprehensive list, but it should cover most of your bases.

supplementdeals.net is a good place to check out, but some of these sites tend to even beat the sales at other sites.

These aren’t listed in any particular order, outside of which ones I expect you may have heard of down to the ones I don’t think you’ve heard of.

Bodybuilding.com – This is by far the biggest online supplement retailer (also referred to as bb.com for short).  They have a massive selection, good customer service, flat-rate shipping, and a lot of non-supplement items for sale.  The rub is that this is one of the higher priced online retailers, even with the 10% coupons that are always around (check the forum or your email for the current coupon).  They have gone away from almost every company that was involved in prohormone sales since they were raided by the FDA in 2009.  There are some very good and reliable brands that they have elected not to carry due to this, but they sell enough that it just doesn’t matter to them.  I usually don’t buy here unless they have a particularly good sale going on.

NutraPlanet – While there are no official numbers, NutraPlanet may be the second largest online retailer.  They tend to sell for less than bodybuilding.com, but also don’t have coupons.  They run more frequent and better sales than bb.com.  Shipping is flat-rate, quick, and customer service is good.  They don’t carry as many brands, but have a better overall brand selection than bb.com.  There are very small coupons for large orders.

Lockout Supplements – Lockout is a relatively small operation with one goal: to sell everything for less than their bigger competitors.  While they don’t have an enormous selection, it is very solid.  Again, everything is bottom of the barrel pricing and there are always 5% coupons (try “facebook”) around, 10% on holidays.  Be aware, though, that Lockout sells a good deal of prohormones and I don’t recommend these to anyone, really.  Just be careful and don’t buy something that you don’t know what it is.  Look for Lockout’s Deal of the Day, it is often the lowest price you’ll ever see that particular supplement.

Sports Nutrition Online (SNO) – You’ll probably hear some mixed opinions about SNO.  There was some drama several months ago with a company they shared a warehouse with — that company sold prohormones and the FDA raided the warehouse, causing a temporary shutdown at SNO.  This caused some customer service issues and there are now some folks that do not care to purchase there.  What those folks are missing out on is a revamped customer service team and some unbelievable sales.  In part to gain back customer trust, they have been selling popular supplements well below cost.  They will also give big discounts on supplements that are near their expiration date.  There are occasionally 5% coupons circulating, you can ask about it on their forum.  If a reader of an article orders from there has a problem with an order, you can contact me because I have friends at their corporate office.

Get Ripped Nutrition – This is a brick and mortar/online combo operation out of California.  They run a store but move much more online than in-store.   Prices are good, usually falling between bb.com and Lockout, but they run great specials and Daily Deals.  Shipping is reliable but not always super quick, unless you’re local.  They’ve had a special on Quest Bars for a while that is unbeatable.  They offer quantity discounts and free shipping, alongside a referral program.  The owner is a great guy that you can’t feel bad about buying from.

SmartPowders – This website shines when it comes to bulk ingredients.  While they have a pretty nice brand selection and run some nice sales, what sets SmartPowders apart is their single ingredient products.  If you’re interested in nootropics, you should already be familiar with SmartPowders.  The owner is a self-proclaimed quality control watchdog of the industry, so you should think that quality control and meeting label claims shouldn’t be a big issue.  You can email their customer service and ask him for Certificates of Authenticity, I’d imagine.

 

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