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Basic Knowledge

Different Types of Insulin

By in Basic Knowledge

There are many types of insulin. They fall into three main categories: rapid -acting insulin, intermediate- acting insulin and long-acting insulin.

Rapid-Acting Insulin

Rapid-acting insulin works quickly to lower the blood glucose. It should be given no earlier than 20 minutes before a meal. It may be given by itself or in combination with an intermediate or long acting insulin.


  • Admelog
  • Apidra
  • Afrezza (inhaled)
  • Fiasp
  • Humalog
  • Novolog


  • Begins working: 10-15 minutes
  • Peak (works the hardest): 1-2 hours
  • Done working: 3-4 hours
  • Can be given by: syringe or pen


Intermediate -Acting Insulin

Intermediate-acting works more slowly than rapid-acting insulin.  It is cloudy and must be rolled several times before using it. It may be combined with a rapid-acting insulin.


  • Humulin NPH
  • Novolin NPH


  • Begins working: 1- 1 1⁄2 hours
  • Peak (works the hardest): 6-8 hours
  • Done working: 8-16 hours
  • Can be given by: syringe or pen


Long-Acting Insulin

Long-acting insulin works up to 24 hours as a background or “basal” insulin. It cannot be mixed with any other insulins.


  • Basaglar
  • Lantus
  • Levemir
  • Toujeo
  • Tresiba


  • Begins working: 2-4 hours
  • Peak (works the hardest): No peak
  • Done working: 14-24 hours
  • Can be given by: syringe or pen


Mix Insulin


  • Humalog Mix 75/25
  • Humulin Mix 70/30
  • Novolog Mix 70/30


Reviewed by Anastasia Albanese O’Neill, PhD, 7/15/19

This document is not intended to take the place of the care and attention of your personal physician or other professional medical services. Our aim is to promote active participation in your care and treatment by providing information and education. Questions about individual health concerns or specific treatment options should be discussed with your physician.