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Photo: Syda Productions (Shutterstock) I love my protein shaker. (In fact, I’ve been known to mix cocktails in it .) It’s a staple in my meathead life because I find protein shakes helpful to my muscle-building goals. But a protein shake isn’t an automatic necessity if you’re lifting weights, so let’s talk about how you know whether you need one. Protein is important for everyone Everyone needs protein, but most casual exercisers can get as much as they need from a normal, healthy-ish diet. If you’re trying to build muscle, you may need more protein than you can conveniently get from your diet. And if you’re losing weight, you’ll want to keep protein intake high so that you don’t lose too much muscle along with fat. The amount of protein you need, no matter which of these categories you fall into, is obtainable through a normal healthy diet. Meats, eggs, dairy, tofu, fake meats, and to a lesser extent grains and beans, are all great sources of protein. Protein shakes and supplements aren’t necessary; they’re just a convenience food. So what’s with all those shaker bottles at the gym? If you need to get a lot of protein in your diet, a shake before (or during) your workout is one way to get some of it in. One school of thought holds that you should space protein out throughout the day for greater muscle protein synthesis , so the shake would be just one of many high-protein meals that […]