Medication name Onset Peak Duration
Insulin glulisine (Apidra®) 10-15 minutes 1-2 hours 3-5 hours
Insulin aspart (Novolog®) 10-15 minutes 1-2 hours 3-5 hours
Insulin lispro (Humalog®) 10-15 minutes 1-2 hours 3-5 hours
Regular insulin 30-60 minutes 2-4 hours 4-8 hours
NPH insulin 1-3 hours
4-10 hours 10-18 hours
Insulin detemir (Levemir®) 1 hours No peak Up to 24 hours
Insulin glargine (Lantus®) 2-3 hours No peak 24+ hours
Pre-mixed insulin
70/30 (70% N and 30% R)
50/50 (50% N and 50% R)

0.5-1 hour
0.5-1 hour

2-10 hours
2-10 hours

10-18 hours
10-18 hours
Pre-mixed insulin
Humalog® mix 75/25
(75% NPL and 25% insulin lispro)
Humalog® mix 50/50
(50% insulin lispro protamine and 50% insulin lispro)
NovoLog® mix 70/30 (70% insulin aspart protamine
and 30% insulin aspart)


10-15 minutes

10-15 minutes

10-15 minutes


1-3 hours

1-3 hours

1-3 hours


10-16 hours

10-16 hours

10-16 hours

How it works

  • Injection in abdomen, legs, arms—insulin directly lowers glucose levels by increasing uptake into muscle and fatty tissue, and reducing release of glucose from the liver.

Side effects

  • Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
  • Local allergic reaction (rare)

Comments/special instructions

  • Insulin may lead to weight gain.
  • Humalog®, Novolog®, and Apidra® may be taken 15 minutes before eating and may be mixed with NPH.
  • Regular insulin is taken 30 minutes before eating and may be mixed with NPH.
  • NPH is taken twice a day before meals or in the morning and at bedtime.

Insulins made by different manufacturers should not be mixed, e.g., Humulin-R® (Eli Lilly) should not be mixed with Novolin-N® (Novo-Nordisk). Manufacturers use different processes to produce their insulins and different preservatives. Their interactions have not been studied.

Insulin helps control blood sugar levels in people whose bodies do not produce enough insulin.

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