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.

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® and Levemir® in the same syringe with other types of 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
First Published: 11/27/2006
Last Reviewed: 01/09/2015