What are the different types of Insulin?

January 9, 2023

Insulin types are generally classified by how long they take to begin action, peak, and last. The five basic types are: rapid-acting, short-acting, intermediate-acting, mixed, and long-acting.

Rapid-acting insulin

As the name implies, rapid-acting insulin lowers blood sugar quickly, as insulin from the pancreas does. It is usually taken at the start of a meal. When taken at dinner time, rapid-acting insulin can prevent severe drops in blood sugar (hypoglycemia) during the night. Some often-prescribed rapid-acting insulins are:

  • NovoRapid (insulin aspart) begins to work in 9 to 20 minutes, and peaks in 1.0 to 1.5 hours. Its effect lasts from 3.0 to 5.0 hours. 
  • Fiasp (faster-acting insulin aspart) begins to work in 4 minutes, and peaks in 0.5 to 1.5 hours. Its effect lasts from 3.0 to 5.0 hours.
  • Apidra (insulin glulisine) begins to work in 10 to 15 minutes and peaks in 1.0 to 1.5 hours. Its effect lasts 3.5 to 5.0 hours. 
  • Humalog (insulin lispro) begins to work in 10 to 15 minutes and peaks in 1.0 to 2.0 hours. Its effect lasts 3.0 to 4.75 hours. 

Short-acting insulin (regular)

  • Regular insulin (Humulin R and Novolin R) begin to work in 30 to 60 minutes and peaks between 2 and 4 hours, lasting 6 to 8 hours.
  • U500 (regular with 5x concentration) begins to work in 30 minutes and peaks in 30 minutes, lasting 18 to 24 hours. 

Intermediate-acting insulin

NPH insulin begins working in 1 to 2 hours, peaks in 4 to 12 hours, and lasts 14 to 24 hours. 

Long-acting insulin 

  • Basaglar (insulin glargine) goes to work in 1 to 1.5 hours, maintains a steady level, and lasts for 11 to 24 hours.
  • Levemir (insulin detemir) goes to work in 1 to 2 hours, maintains a steady level, and lasts for as long as 24 hours.
  • Tresiba (insulin degludec) goes to work in 30 to 90 minutes, maintains a steady level, and lasts 42 hours. 

Mixed insulin

Humulin 70/30 goes to work in 30 minutes, peaks at 2 to 4 hours, and lasts 14 to 24 hours.

Novolin 70/30 goes to work in 30 minutes, peaks in 2 to 12 hours, and lasts as long as 24 hours.

Novolog 70/30 goes to work in 10 to 20 minutes, peaks in 1 to 4 hours, and lasts as long as 24 hours.

Humulin 50/50 goes to work in 30 minutes, peaks at 2 to 5 hours, and lasts 18 to 24 hours.

Humalog mix 75/25 goes to work in 15 minutes, peaks in 30 minutes to 2.5 hours, and lasts 16 to 20 hours.