Dr Alannah McKay

Postdoctoral Research Fellow - Exercise and Nutrition Research Program

Dr Alannah McKay

Areas of expertise: sports nutrition; exercise physiology; iron metabolism; iron deficiency; female athlete

HDR Supervisor accreditation status: Provisional

ORCID ID: 0000-0002-4184-3886

Email: alannah.mckay@acu.edu.au

Location: ACU Canberra Campus

Alannah McKay completed a Bachelor of Science (Exercise, Health and Sports Science) at the University of Western Australia in 2014. Subsequently, Alannah completed a post-graduate position within the Physiology department at the Australian Institute of Sport, where she was involved in the preparation of many Australian athletes prior to the 2016 Rio Olympic and Paralympic games. Since, Alannah has submitted her PhD titled “The Effect of Dietary Manipulation on Iron Metabolism and the Immune System in Elite Athletes”, which was undertaken in partnership with the Australian Institute of Sport, Western Australian Institute of Sport and the University of Western Australia. Alannah joined Australian Catholic University as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in 2020. Her research will continue to explore the impact of diet and exercise on a range of health outcomes in athletes, with a specific interest in iron metabolism.

Select publications

  • McKay AKA, Sim M, Moretti D, Hall R, Stellingwerff T, Burden R, Peeling P. Methodological considerations for investigating iron status and regulation in exercise and sport science studies. International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism.
  • Smith E, McKay AKA, Ackerman KE, Harris R, Elliott-Sale K, Stellingwerff T, Burke LM. Methodology review: Auditing the representation of female athletes in sports science research. International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism. 2022;17(2):317-331.
  • McKay AKA, Stellingwerff T, Smith E, Martin DT, Mujika I, Goosey-Tolfrey VL, Sheppard J, Burke LM. Defining training and performance calibre: A participant classification framework. International Journal of Sport Physiology and Performance. 2022;17(2):317-331.
  • McKay AKA, Peeling P, Pyne DB, Tee N, Whitfield J, Sharma AP, Heikura IA, Burke LM. Low carbohydrate availability, not energy availability, alters the iron and immune response to exercise in athletes, Medicine and Science in Sport and Exercise. 2022;54(3):377-387.
  • Burke LM, Hall R, Heikura IA, Ross MLR, Tee N, Kent G, Whitfield J, Sharma AP, Forbes SF, Jones AM, Blackwell JR, Peeling P, Mujika IA, Mackay K, Kozior M, McKay AKA. Neither beetroot juice supplementation nor increased carbohydrate oxidation enhance economy of prolonged exercise in elite race walkers. Nutrients, 2021, 13(8): 2767.
  • Burke LB, Whitfield J, Heikura IA, Ross MLR, Tee N, Forbes SG, Hall R, McKay AKA, Wallett AM Sharma AP. Low Carbohydrate High Fat diet rapidly achieves fat adaptation but impairs exercise carbohydrate oxidation, economy and endurance performance despite enhanced glycogen availability. The Journal of Physiology. Accepted and in Press, 2020.
  • McKay AKA, Goods PSR, Binnie MJ, Goodman C, Peeling P. Examining the decay in serum ferritin following an intravenous iron infusion: A retrospective cohort analysis of Olympic sport female athletes. Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism. Accepted and In Press, 2020.
  • Burke LM, Sharma AP, Heikura IA, Forbes S, Holloway M, McKay AKA, Bone JL, Leckey JJ, Welvaert M, Ross ML. Crisis of confidence averted: impairment of exercise economy and performance in elite race walkers by ketogenic low carbohydrate, high fat (LCHF) diet is reproducible. PloS ONE, 2020,15(6): e0234027.
  • Heikura IA, Burke LM, Hawley JA, Ross ML, Garvican-Lewis L, Sharma AP, McKay AKA, Leckey JJ, Welvaert M, McCall L, Ackerman KE. A short-term ketogenic diet impairs markers of bone health in response to exercise. Frontiers in Endocrinology, 2020, 10:880.
  • McKay AKA, Peeling P, Binnie MJ, Goods PSR, Sim M, Cross R, Siegler J. Topical Sodium Bicarbonate Application Does Not Improve Blood Buffering Capacity or Enhance Exercise Performance. International Journal of Sport Physiology and Performance, 2020;15(7), 1005-1011.
  • Ducker KJ, Lines RLJ, Chapman MT, Peeling P, McKay AKA, Gucciardi DF. Validity and reliability evidence of a point of care assessment of salivary cortisol and alpha amylase: A pre-registered study. PeerJ, 2020, 8: e8366.
  • McKay AKA, Heikura IA, Burke LM, Peeling P, Pyne DB, Swelm RPL, Laarkkers CM, Cox GR. Influence of periodizing dietary carbohydrate on iron regulation and immune function in elite triathletes. International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism. 2019,30(1); 34-41.
  • Sim M, Garvican-Lewis LA, Cox GR, Govus A, McKay AKA, Stellingwerff T, Peeling P. Iron considerations for the athlete: A narrative review. European Journal of Applied Physiology. 2019; 119(7), 1463-1478.
  • McCormick R, Moretti D, McKay AKA, Laarakkers CM, van Swelm R, Trinder D, Cox GR, Zimmerman MB, Sim M, Goodman C, Dawson B, Peeling P. The impact of morning versus afternoon exercise on iron absorption in athletes. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. 2019; 51(10):2147-2155
  • McKay AKA, Peeling P, Pyne DB, Welvaert M, Tee N, Leckey JJ, Sharma AP, Ross MLR, Garvican-Lewis LA, van Swelm R, Laarakkers CM, Burke LM. The impact of acute carbohydrate consumption on the iron-regulatory response to exercise in elite keto-adapted athletes. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport. 2019; 22(6):635-640
  • McKay AKA, Peeling P, Pyne DB, Welvaert M, Tee N, Leckey JJ, Sharam AP, Ross MLR, Garvican-Lewis LA, Swinkels DW, Laarakkers CM, Burke LM. Chronic adherence to a ketogenic diet modifies iron metabolism in elite athletes. Medicine and Science in Sport and Exercise 2019; 51(3) 548-555.


  • Effects of Mitopure (Urolithin A) on skeletal muscle function, iron regulation and endurance performance (2021-2022). Funding: Amazentis, Switzerland: $294K
  • The effect of ketone ester supplement in conjunction with adaptation to ketogenic diet on metabolism and performance in elite athletes (2020) Funding: Project Grant. Mary MacKillop Institute for Health Research, Australian Catholic University: $128K
  • The effect of potato-supported strategies to increase carbohydrate oxidation, race economy and performance during endurance exercise (2018-2019). Funding: Alliance of Potato Research and Education (USA): US$140K
  • The effect of dietary periodisation strategies on health and performance outcomes in world class endurance athletes (2017-2019): Funding: 3 year extension of Program Grant (2017000800) from Australian Catholic University Research: 533K continuing Supernova projects
  • Optimizing the timing of iron supplementation in relation to exercise at sea-level and altitude (2021). Funding: Project Grant. Mary MacKillop Institute for Health Research, Australian Catholic University $44K
  • Effect of acute and chronic manipulation of carbohydrate availability on health parameters in elite race walkers (2017). Funding: High Performance Sport Research Fund. Australian Institute of Sport $49K
  • Effect of periodising carbohydrate availability on performance, iron and bone health in elite triathletes. Funding: High Performance Sport Research Fund. Australian Institute of Sport $57,640

Accolades and awards

  • Dean’s List, PhD Thesis, University of Western Australia – 2020
  • GSSI - ACSM Young Investigator in Sports Nutrition Award, 1st Place – 2020
  • American College of Sports Medicine Nutrition Interest Group Student Award – 1st Place 2019
  • American College of Sports Medicine International Student Award – 2019
  • ECSS Gatorade Sports Science Institute Travel Award – 2019
  • Frank Pyke Scholarship Recipient, 2016

Editorial roles

  • International Journal for Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism
  • Human Kinetics – 2021 onwards

Public engagement


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