November 9


Why Giving Insulin Time to Work Is Important for Managing Blood Glucose

By Gabriela

November 9, 2021

Even though it depends on what kind of insulin people are taking, chances are it’s the kind that needs some time to work before they start consuming their meal. For example, Humalog starts working in about 15 minutes and peaks in about 60 minutes, lasting for 2-4 hours in total.

Why is such information of any true importance? Well, people should know that timing the intake of insulin to their intake of food is one of the key factors in better maintaining one’s blood sugar levels.

So, let’s imagine one’s about to eat a meal that contains 30 grams of carbs.

Let’s also imagine that their insulin-to-carb ratio is 1:15. This means that for every 15 grams of carbs, they give one unit of insulin. Keeping this in mind, let’s take a look at two separate scenarios.

First Scenario: Insulin Right Before Eating

In this scenario, let’s say people will give 2 units of insulin in order to cover their meals. Of course, there are certainly other factors, such as the quantity of fat and protein which will, of course, change their insulin needs.

But, for the sake of keeping things simple for this example, we’ll stick to the 30 grams of carbs. It’ll be easier to illustrate the timing concept this way. Before people dig in, they should check their blood glucose levels, which measure at 100 mg/dL. Give the two units of insulin and chow down.

The moment people start eating, their blood glucose levels will slowly but surely rise. So, they will be higher than they were before they started their meal. This is by the time the insulin starts doing its job.

So, what do people end up with? It turns out that now, other than the two units for their food, they need an extra dose for ‘correction’. And chances are they won’t notice that their blood glucose is higher than they’d planned or hoped for. Well, at least not until after some time.

This will lead to the false assumption that the next time they eat the same meal, they will need to increase their insulin dose, which may lead to low sugar levels (hypoglycemia). Or, perhaps they will assume they need to increase the basal insulin, which may be another potential mistake.

Second Scenario: Giving Insulin the Time it Needs

Now let’s pretend the same thing as before: 30 grams of carbs, the blood glucose is 100 mg/dL, and one gets two units of insulin. The only difference is they’ll wait for about 10 to 15 minutes before starting their meal.

So, when one begins eating, their insulin also begins working at around the same time, which means it’s the ideal timing for hindering any increase in blood sugar levels.

The logic is very simple here: the incoming carbs are successfully canceled out by the incoming insulin.

This is because it has had enough time to start working. And while this may not bring optimal blood sugar levels for every individual, it is still the better option as it should prevent any extreme highs or extreme lows around meals.

Watch the Intake of Carbs

Another thing that should always be on our mind is the proper amount of carbs, as too much will make managing our levels and finding the ideal dose of insulin that much harder, not to say impossible. So try and limit the carb intake to a certain degree.

One to which people will be able to manage their glucose levels well after, during, or before a meal.

As each person is different and there is no universal insulin amount which is right for everyone, a little trial, and error is required until they discover their levels are consistently managed after a meal.

Another issue most people with the condition have to deal with is when they eat foods that include carbs mixed with plenty of fat, such as pizza. The issue here is that fats slow down carb absorption, which will make finding the ideal insulin unit that much harder.

But despite these variables, don’t give up trying to manage the levels properly. Test by seeing which foods work best, and which are best avoided. This is not just our advice, but also a popular tip from those with well-managed sugar levels.

And make sure to give the insulin some time to work before enjoying food, this scenario is a far better alternative to any other. We hope people find this information useful.

Source: Diabetes Daily


  • Gabriela

    Co-Founder & Editor-in-Chief of Diabetes Health Page, Fitness trainer and instructor has dedicated her career to educating and informing people for over 10 years. As one of the most passionate diabetes advocates, Gabi has worked tirelessly to ensure that those people receive the education and support they need to properly manage their diabetes and achieve their health, fitness and weight loss goals.

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