GNC Lean Shake 25 Review: Does it work?

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Expert rating: 3.0/5

Customer rating: stars-icon voted

Intro: What is it?

GNC Lean Shake 25 is a meal replacement shake that has 25 grams of protein, and it’s  meant to regulate blood sugar for those on a low carb diet.

Each container of this shake comes with the promise that it’s “an essential component of a successful weight management program”. So will it actually help you get rid of weight? What’s the overall quality, and are there is better options out there? This review will help you understand everything you need to know about GNC Lean Shake 25

GNC Lean Shake 25 Ingredients

Listed below are the ingredients to their French Vanilla:

Whey Protein Concentrate Milk Protein Concentrate Whey Protein Isolate Maltodextrin Cellulose Gum
Oat Bran Resistant Starch Fructooligosaccharides Xanthan Gum Carrageenan
Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil Maltodextrin Sodium Caseinate Dipotassium Phosphate Polysorbate 60
Monoglycerides Natural Flavors Artificial Flavors Dimagnesium Phosphate Calcium Carbonate
Tricalcium Phosphate Sodium Ascorbate Maltodextrin Ferric Orthophosphate dl-alpha Tocopheryl Acetate
Niacinamide Zinc Oxide d-Calcium Pantothenate Manganese Sulfate Pyridoxine Hydrochloride
Cupric Oxide Thiamin Hydrochloride Vitamin A Acetate Riboflavin Chromium Chloride
Folic Acid Biotin Sodium Molybdate Potassium Iodide Sodium Selenite
Cyanocobalamin Nonfat Dry Milk Titanium Dioxide Lecithin Sucralose
Acesulfame Potassium


Some of the ingredients used are controversial:

Cellulose Gum: A thickener that is found in laxatives and household cleaning supplies. It’s been tested on lab rats and it has shown the possibility to increase inflammation and metabolism issues. It also increased the risk for obesity in clinical studies.

Carrageenan: Stabilizer and thickener extracted from seaweed. Independent studies show it can lead to inflammation and tumors.

Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil: Specially treated oil which is supposed to last longer than other oils. It’s known to produce trans fats when digested by the body. Trans  fats can lead to cardiovascular damage, and it can lead to obesity and heart attacks.

Polysorbate 60: Emulsifier extracted from corn, palm oil, and even petroleum. It doesn’t spoil and it’s used to replace dairy.  It’s often extracted from GMO crops.

Ferric Orthophosphate: Banned in the European Union over health concerns. This iron supplement can lead to skin, eye, and respiratory irritations. It’s also potentially toxic when swallowed.

Niacinamide: Known to cause itching, burning, and flushing sensation in the skin. It can be potentially toxic in large doses.

Potassium Iodide: This extract is known to cause issues in the thyroid. It’s also known as a goitrogen, meaning it can prevent the healthy absorption of iodine. Other side effects include fever, fatigue, swelling in the neck and throat, mouth sores, hives, vomiting, nausea, stomach pains, numbness and tingling in the hands and feet, rapid heartbeat, and many other issues.

Sodium Selenite: Potentially dangerous in large doses, this ingredient is often found in animal feed. It’s considered a cost effective additive that replaces more wholesome sources of selenium. Depending on how it’s processed, the risk for toxicity can vary from batch to batch.

Titanium Dioxide: Often found in sunscreen, this additive can lead to allergies in some people. It also can lead to respiratory illnesses and it can cause cell injury and even cancer. In mice it has also been shown to cause inflammation and damage to DNA. The International Agency for Research on Cancer has labeled this ingredient as being possibly carcinogenic.

Macronutrients and Calories

Calories 200 Calories From Fat 30 Total Fat 3g, 5% Saturated Fat 1.5g, 8% Cholesterol 60mg, 20%
Sodium 120mg, 5% Potassium 250mg, 7% Total Carbohydrate 17g, 6% Dietary Fiber 8g, 32% Soluble Fiber 5g
Sugar 3g Protein 25g Vitamin A 20% Vitamin C 60% Calcium 50%
Iron 20% Vitamin E 20% Thiamin 20% Riboflavin 20% Niacin 20%
Vitamin B6 20% Folic Acid 20% Vitamin B12 20% Biotin 20% Pantothenic Acid 20%
Phosphorus 20% Iodine 40% Magnesium 20% Zinc 20% Selenium 20%
Copper 20% Manganese 20% Chromium 20% Molybdenum 20%


There’s a high amount at 200 calories. There’s also 30 calories which come from fat, to determine the fat content you divided both numbers together:

30/200=0.3 times 100= 30% fat per serving.

This is a considebrable amount of fat. Since the FDA lists a food as being high fat if it has 20% or above, this product contains a lot of its calories from fatty sources.


The company brags about using a low glycemixc carbohydrate blend. Oat bran is one of  the ingredients which does have a minimal effect on blood sugar.

Other ingredients in this blend are Cellulose Gum, which has been shown to increase the risk for obesity. Xantan Gum is another thickener added which is often found in processed foods.  Anothr ingredient is Fructooligosaccharides, which are 30 to 50% sugar based.

The Quality of GNC Lean Shake 25’s protein

There’s a 4 tiered blend of proteins that make up 25 grams worth:

Whey Protein Concentrate: From 29% to 89% protein by weight, this protein source is an extract found in the cheese making process. It’s slower digesrtig than its isolated counterpart. This makes it efficient for providing sustaining protein hours after eating it.

Milk Protein Concentrate: Between 40% to 90% protein by weight, it’s a complete milk protein source. Due to it being often imported from countries with lax safety laws, there’s fears by the Food and Water Watch Organization over contaminations. Studies show some of these protein extracts are lower in amino acids, and that they’re treated in a way that destroys their nutritional value.

Whey Protein Isolate: Rapidly absorbed form of protein that is often free of carbohydrates, fats, and lactose.

Sodium Caseinate: Protein extract found in milk, this additive has been studied in clinical studies. According to one study, having more than 10% of your protein from this ingredient can lead to cancer. Some people may also be allergic to it even if they’re not lactose intolerant.

Overall the protein is a mixed assortment of high quality whey and other sources which are questionable. Since the first 3 are mixed into a proprietary blend, it’s unknown how much of it is the much more wholesome whey protein.

The Price and Quality of GNC Lean Shake 25

The company sells this brand directly from their website for $44.99, and each container has 16 servings.

So at 2 shakes a day each canister provides 8 servings. The daily price is:

$44.99/8= $5.62 a day.

It’s considerably price than other meal replacements which only feature wholesome whey protein. Though there’s 25 grams of protein, it’s unknown how much of it is Milk Protein Concentrate and Sodium Caseinate, both sources of protein that are lacking.

There’s also issues with the other ingredients, some of which can actually increase the risk for obesity.

Partially Hydrogenated Oils

This process allows for oil to be preserved for a longer time, and it improves the texture and flavor of foods.  They also lead to trans fat, which are forms of fat which can cause severe problems. According to the FDA:

partially hydrogenated oils are the main source (of trans fat)”

This can lead to an increase in bad LDL cholesterol, which the FDA adds:

can increase your risk of developing cardiovascular disease”

On June 2015, the FDA stated they were working on reducing the amount of partially hydrogenated oils, they claim this will lead to:

“reduce coronary heart disease and prevent thousands of fatal heart attacks each year”

Avoiding this form of fat is essential to ensure you won’t experience any potentially fatal symptoms.  These types of fats won’t show up on an ingredient label because technically they’re not formed until after your body digests partially hydrogenated oils. So it’s a way for companies to get away from listing the actual gram amounts of trans fats. It’s unknown how many are inside GNC Lean Shake after you drink it.

Artificial Sweeteners

2 of the sweeteners added are known to cause problems in the body:

Sucralose: Non caloric sweetener that’s around 1,000 times sweeter than sucrose. Studies by Duke University showed it can destroy healthy gut bacteria in mice.  The Center for Science in the Public Interest recently downgraded its status from safe to  caution.

Acesulfame Potassium: Some reports have shown this calorie free sweetener to be carcinogenic.  One study showed it altered the taste of mice’s preference for sugar. It also has been linked to long term neurological damage.


GNC  or General Nutrition Centers sell this brand.  They operate chains across the US that cell their own brands, as well as other companies products. They have a customer service line and address to reach them:

Phone Number: (877) 462- 4700

Address: 300 6th Avenue

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15222

They have had issues in their past:

  • Oregon’s attorney general filed a lawsuit against GNC for their role in adding the now banned BMPEA ingredient. This additive was linked to serious issues such as stroke and cardiovascular damage.
  • They were sued in court by numerous franchise owners over alleged attempts of the company trying to push them out of the business.
  • The company got rid of a half a millions worth of product due to them containing the banned ingredient DMAA.
  • The New York attorney general sent some GNC supplements to be tested. Lab reports showed many of the supplements had fillers, ingredients which weren’t supposed to be added, and some brands didn’t contain what was claimed to be inside.

Customer Opinions

Many reviews are available and after reading through them there was a clear concensus:

“not a bad price. Didn’t lose any weight”

“nasty taste going down and aftertaste”

“Needs more substance and taste”

“Tastes fine”

Most people who reviewed this brand didn’t like the taste, a few did however. From the reviews available there weren’t any cases of people reporting weight loss. Most people found it to have an artificial taste.


Some important points to know about GNC Lean Shake 25 includes:

  • Though it’s high in protein, not all of it is good: 2 out of 4 of the protein sources added are known to be potentially dangerous. Milk Protein Concentrate has been criticized for a lack of safety regulations. Sodium Caseinate shouldn’t be over supplemented as studies show it can promote cancer. It’s unknown how much of these 25 grams come from these 2 proteins.
  • The sweeteners added are potentially dangerous: The artificial sweeteners added are known to cause long term damage. Some studies show they can lead to reduced healthy gut bacteria, and even an elevated risk for obesity. These types of sweeteners are added as an alternative since they often don’t translate to sugar grams on ingredient labels. However, they’re known to potentially cause more damage than other sweeteners.
  • 8 of the vitamins and minerals have their own potential side effects: Some of the symptoms are as extreme as irreversible damage to the thyroid gland. These cheap additives are often used to make a product seem better than it actually is. However, some of these aren’t recommended in large doses, and others are seen as hazardous when swallowed.
  • It can promote the buildup of trans fat: One ingredient is partially hydrogenated, which is a process which ensures it won’t go rancid. This process also promotes trans fats in the body. These types of fats can lead to an increase in obesity and cardiovascular damage. The FDA has recommended avoiding this fat since it can lead to fatal heart attacks. It’s also known to increase bad cholesterol.
  • There’s a lot of calories added: At 400 calories a day if you supplement with 2 shakes, it’s a considerable amount of calories. In order to lose weight you have to make sure you’re limiting your calories. To put things into perspective, it takes about 1 hour in the gym for the average person to lose 300 calories.

Customers have left their opinions which includes negative remarks against the taste and overall quality. Many of the ingredients can produce unwanted side effects, and there’s a high amount of calories which make wiehgt loss harder than other alternatives.

There’s less caloric options with only wholesome protein available.

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