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The Viking Diet and the Viking Physique

Andrew is well read in history, having studied history at University in England. He has been on writing online for many years.

The Vikings Were Ferocious Warriors

The Vikings of Scandinavia raided and terrified the populace of Western Europe between 790-1066. These warriors from the edges of European civilization took large sections of land from the native population and were painted as blood thirsty barbarians by the Christian authorities who committed their deeds to paper throughout their domination of the European coastline.
The Vikings were larger than average men who attacked their enemies and victims with a ferocious nature that was often met with little resistance.

Excavation of Viking warriors throughout Europe shows the superior physique of these Scandinavian warriors. Many a grave has an occupant whose body was in excess of six foot and upon closer inspection, their remains point to possessing a much more muscular frame than those who lived in the more hospitable parts of Europe

But what made the Vikings such a powerful force in the darker ages of the European continent?

Viking Aggression

The Vikings were fearsome warriors who slaughtered their enemies throughout the Dark Ages.

The Vikings were fearsome warriors who slaughtered their enemies throughout the Dark Ages.


The Viking's had a very healthy diet and they lacked the refined sugars of our modern world. Sweeteners came from sources such as fruit, berries and honey. All of these natural sugars were limited to the Vikings due to climate and they were often stored to keep throughout the lean winter months. The Vikings undoubtedly enjoyed sweet items, but there was never an overabundance which would have negatively impacted their physical health.

Sugar has many negative effects on the human body and too much sugar can lead to diabetes and obesity. Granted, sugar consumption throughout the rest of Europe was still low compared to modern times but the Vikings had an active diet with only natural sugars involved.

A Viking War Camp

Vikings were able to survive in harsh conditions and brought war to those they wished to replace.

Vikings were able to survive in harsh conditions and brought war to those they wished to replace.

Consuming Protein Over Carbohydrates

Most of the Viking diet involved consuming fats and protein over starch based carbohydrates. Fish and game provided a strong amount of energy for the Viking warriors. All of the animal was eaten, including parts which are often ignored in the modern world. Offal and bone marrow provided the Vikings with additional vitamins which are often ignored by many diners today.
The liver of animals provided Vikings with iron and their are many useful vitamins in the drained blood of livestock. As most nutritionists will tell you, protein stored in your body is more useful than storing carbohydrates. The protein usually develops into muscle whereas carbohydrates become stored as sugars that allow an increase in body fat.

The Viking Diet contained protein from fish and aquatic mammals. Seals,whales and walrus were often eaten. These creatures contained large amounts of protein and fat, this diet helped sate their need for fresh meat and allowed the Vikings to continue to keep domesticated cattle to supply milk to the young animals and to their families through the lean months of winter.

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Genetic Selection

The early part of the Viking Age was often a tale of famine and cold calculated survival. If a newborn child was unlikely to bring much to the family then their fate was often sealed. If the newborn showed extreme weakness or signs of a birth defect, they were often left outside in the cold for a few hours to see if they were hardy enough to survive future adversity.

It was a cold practice that ensured that the strongest could survive the lean months and that those who would be a burden, could not impact the survival of the others in the homestead. Obviously in these modern times, such behaviour is thought of as barbaric. But, many of us know that we can get access to food without the threat of starvation whereas in the long winter months a thousand years ago. What was stockpiled from the harvest, had to last until you were able to hunt, fish and forage with some hope of success.

The weeding out of inferior genetics would have produced a hardy race of people, whose breeding ensured that they were fine specimens who thrived when the situation allowed them to eat without restricted rations.

A Very Active Life

The additional protein consumed by Vikings was often used by the Vikings to increase their muscle density. The Vikings were very active people and when not raiding other settlements, they were often seen doing extremely manual labour in a variety of harsh conditions. Their fishermen rowed their long ships through the wild currents with augmented strength and they called upon the same worked muscles when they sailed across the North Sea to the bountiful rewards that northern England possessed.

A favoured weapon of the Vikings was the axe, these weapons were used in many of their daily chores. From chopping down trees, creating kindling for the fire or even in the shipbuilding for which they received great renown.

The demanding physical labour created a physically strong race of people and many of the tedious chores developed strength that was essential in battle. The Vikings used many of their tools as weapons when they raided distant settlements and because they were used to the tool, they were able to swing them around with lethal efficiency.

Across the Dangerous Sea

The Vikings fought strong currents to cross the North Sea using their superior strength and seamanship.

The Vikings fought strong currents to cross the North Sea using their superior strength and seamanship.

Hard Work Made Powerful Warriors.

The level of energy that the Vikings invested in their lives just to survive, created a hardy and powerful people who were able to overcome much of the adverse conditions that nature threw at them. The Vikings were skilled in war and made strong by their surroundings and work ethic.

The Vikings were powerful and had pushed their bodies to their physical limit in their need to survive. Bodies recovered from ancient graves show the wear and tear that was endemic through their proud tradition of maintaining survival by brute strength and knowledge.

For a people to survive in the cold and remote regions of Europe, they required discipline and a work ethic that was beyond compare. This combined with a straightforward high protein diet developed a warrior culture few could hope to match.

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© 2019 Andrew Stewart

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