About Insulin

Insulin is a hormone made by your pancreas, an organ that sits behind your stomach. Insulin is needed to move glucose, the sugar in blood, from the bloodstream into the body’s cells. The cells use the sugar in blood as fuel to do their work. Insulin also helps the body store fat for future energy use.

How much insulin you need each day depends on your blood sugar levels. Your blood sugar changes during the day so the number of shots of insulin you need may vary.

When you start using insulin, you need to check and write down your blood sugar levels 2 or more times a day.

Your healthcare provider will use these results to decide the type and how much insulin you need.

Insulin comes in different types, based on:

  • How long it takes for insulin to start lowering blood sugar, called “onset”
  • When its effect is strongest, called the “peak”
  • How long its effect lasts, called “duration”

The following table tells you about the different types of insulin.

Type of Insulin Starts working within.. Peaks in… Lasts… Clear or Cloudy
Rapid-acting (lispro, aspart, and glulisine) 5 minutes About 1 hour 2–4 hours Clear
Regular/short-acting 30 minutes 2–3 hours 3–6 hours Clear
Intermediate-acting NPH 2–4 hours 4–12 hours 12–18 hours Cloudy
Human ultralente 6–10 hours - 20–24 hours Cloudy
Insulin analogues (glargine and detemir) 2–4 hours - 24 hours Cloudy

  • You may need only one type of insulin to control your blood sugar.
  • If your blood sugar is hard to control, you may need to take two types of insulin.
  • When you need two types of insulin, you will need to mix your own, or you may be able to use pre-mixed insulin.
  • Not all types of insulin come pre-mixed in bottles.

Mixing Insulin

  • Draw the clear, short-acting insulin into the syringe before the cloudy, long-acting insulin.
  • Roll the bottle of cloudy, long-acting insulin gently between your palms to mix the contents before drawing insulin into the syringe.
  • Check the label to make sure you have the correct insulin before drawing up your dose.
  • Avoid getting long-acting insulin mixed into the short-acting bottle

Storing Insulin

  • The bottle of insulin being used should be kept at room temperature.
  • Any insulin that will not be used in 30 days should be stored in the refrigerator.
  • If a bottle kept at room temperature is not used within 30 days, throw it away.
  • Do not store insulin in the freezer or in hot places, such as the glove box of a car or on the windowsill.
  • If your insulin is normally clear but has become cloudy, clumped, or crystallized, throw it away and open a new bottle.
  • Always have an extra bottle of insulin on hand


Do not share your insulin with others.
Ask your healthcare provider if you have ANY questions about insulin.

Diet and Exercise

What you eat

The food you eat contains three main types of nutrients—carbohydrate, protein, and fat. When the carbohydrates in food are digested, they are turned into sugar (glucose). Eating carbohydrate foods can quickly raise blood sugar levels.

Carbohydrates may be simple or complex.

  • Fruit and fruit juices
  • Milk and other dairy products
  • Sweetened foods, such as candy, sodas, and most desserts
  • Bread
  • Crackers
  • Rice
  • Potatoes
  • Corn
  • Pasta
  • Cereals
  • Beans
  • Peas

Fiber is a type of carbohydrate that is not digested and does not raise blood sugar very much. Fiber is found in fruits, vegetables, and many whole grain foods. Foods high in fiber are good for people with diabetes and have many other health benefits.

  • Choose carbohydrates with lots of fiber, like beans, oatmeal, brown rice, and whole grain foods.
  • Limit simple carbohydrates.
  • Eat small portions.

Each meal should include foods that contain carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.

  • Your 9 inch plate should be half full of vegetables.
  • Limit the protein and carbohydrates to 1/4th of the plate each.
  • Sweets and sauces should be used in very small portions.


People who use insulin need to exercise regularly. Pick something you like and can do often.

Many things you already do are exercise,

  • Walking your dog
  • Cleaning the house
  • Working in the yard
  • Washing the car
  • Park Farther away from Stores to increase your Walking
  • Take the stairs instead of the Elevator.

Do not start a strenuous exercise program without checking with your healthcare provider.

Aerobic Exercise

Makes your heart beat faster
  • Brisk Walking
  • Swimming
  • Biking
  • Basketball
  • Tennis
  • Exercise Classes

Strength training

Makes your muscles stronger
  • lifting Weights
  • Elastic Exercise Bands
  • Weight Machines

Stretching includes yoga and other activities that improve your flexibility

Physical activity will lower blood sugar. When first starting to exercise, check your blood sugar after you exercise to make sure it is not too low. You may need to adjust your dose of insulin to prevent your blood sugar from falling too low.

When you Exercise

  • Wear or carry some type of personal identification (bracelet, necklace, etc.) that says you are diabetic.
  • Carry food or glucose tablets in case your blood sugar is drops after exercise.