Skip to main content

Taking insulin: Time-action of different insulins

  • Insulins Starts working Peaks Stops working

    Rapid-acting

    • Humalog® (lispro)
    • NovoLog® (aspart)
    • Apidra® (glulisine)

    5 to 15 minutes

    1 to 2 hours

    3 to 4 hours

    Short-acting

    • Regular (R)

    30 to 45 minutes

    3 hours

    4 to 8 hours

    Intermediate-acting

    • NPH (N)

    2 to 4 hours

    4 to 8 hours

    10 to 16 hours

    Concentrated

    • Humulin® R U-500

    30 minutes

    2 to 4 hours

    up to 24 hours

    Pre-mix*

    Intermediate-acting/rapid acting

    NPH and regular insulin

    • 5 to 15 minutes
    • 30 to 45 minutes
    • 1 to 2 hours/some increase at 4 to 8 hours
    • 2 to 3 hours/4 to 8 hours
    • 10 to 16 hours
    • 10 to 16 hours

    Basal**

    2 hours

    no peak

    24 hours

    *The long-acting insulin may work the best between 4 and 8 hours.

    **Lantus® and Levemir® cannot be mixed with any other insulin.

    Important information

    • Give Humalog®, Novolog® and Apidra® less than 15 minutes before a meal.
    • Give Regular 30 minutes before a meal.
    • Do not mix Lantus® or Levemir® with other insulin.

    Other injectables

    Insulins Starts working Peaks Stops working

    GLP-1 Injections:
    *Byetta®
    *Victoza®
    *Bydureon®
    *Tanzeum™
    *Trulicity™

    Actions:

    • regulates the amount of insulin released
      after eating
    • decreases the release of glucose by the
      liver
    • reduces appetite (can increase weight loss
    • slows the rate of food that is absorbed
    • Byetta® within 60 minutes
    • Victoza®, Bydureon®: can take 2 to 3 weeks
      for maximum effect

    2 hours

    6 to 10 hours

    Pramlintide acetate injection:

    **Symlin®  

    Actions:

    • regulates glucose levels after eating
    • decreases the release of glucose by the liver
    • reduces appetite (can increase weight loss)
    • slows the rate of food that is absorbed

    15 minutes

    48 minutes

    3 hours

    *Used the sulfonylureas, metformin or TZD.

    **Used with insulin.

  • Source: Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Basic Skills for Living with Diabetes, sixth edition
    Reviewed by: Allina Health's Patient Education Department experts
    First published: 12/01/2006
    Last reviewed: 01/09/2015


  • If you see this message, you must refresh before proceeding with editing!


Copyright Information

This site is presented for information only and is not intended to substitute for professional medical advice. Allina Health®, Allina®, the Allina Health logo, and Medformation® are registered trademarks of Allina Health System. Presentation and Design ©2015 Allina Health. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED