How Long After Insulin Should I Eat (And Why)?

Exact Answer: After 15-30 minutes

Insulin is the best way to prevent or avoid complications in diabetes. It manages the blood sugar level when a diabetes patient cannot make needed insulin or when cannot use it properly. It allows the glucose to break down and use in the form of energy. Depending on the type of diabetes, you may need to take a different type of insulin in a day.

This generally depends on several factors like diet, blood sugar level between the meals, and so on.  Usage of insulin may be risky sometimes. Following a regular schedule of your mealtime and insulin would help to maintain the proper blood sugar level.

How Long After Insulin Should I Eat?

Few people have diabetes of type 1 and some have type 2 diabetes, in both cases, intake of insulin is necessary to maintain the blood sugar level in a specific range. Normally, the food an individual eats decides the quantity of sugar that enters the bloodstream and how much time it takes to enter it. But, when you eat your food as a diabetic patient, plays a crucial role.

It is also important to note that rapid-acting insulin should be given before 15 minutes of the meal. Usually, your respective doctor prescribes the quantity of insulin. If you had taken a rapid insulin shot, you must eat after 15 to 10 minutes without any delay to control the sugar level. In the case of regular insulin, it is still effective if the wait is for more than 30 minutes.

People find difficulty in managing both the meals and regular insulin injections and usually end up eating at an unusual time. In those cases, it is difficult to achieve good results. As rapid insulin should be taken before a couple of minutes of the meal, it is more effective and often advised by the doctor.

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In an ideal treatment, the working speed of insulin would be directly proportional to the rise in blood sugar meal per meal. Most individuals with diabetes take at least 2 shots and some people may also need 4 to 5 shots per day. One should be careful while using rapid-acting insulin. Even sometimes doctors prescribe to combine both rapid-acting and regular insulin.

In summary,

Type of InsulinTime to Wait
Rapid-acting insulin15 minutes
Regular insulin30 – 60 minutes

Why Do I Have To Wait That Long To Eat After Insulin?

Both rapid-acting and regular insulin should be taken before meals. Though there is a certain time limit after the meal within which you can take insulin, it is strictly restricted to avoid taking insulin after food. Because once you start to eat, your body’s blood sugar level starts to rise which does not allow insulin to do its work.

To get a proper result from insulin, it should be injected before 30 minutes of your meal. But the amount of insulin to intake depends on the number of carbohydrates you are going to eat after the respective insulin. Hypoglycemia is the name of the case when your body’s blood sugar level goes below normal.

And when you miss the insulin shot before meals, it results in hypoglycemia in such cases, blood sugar level goes below the normal level leading to a risky situation. Similarly, waiting too long or more than a specific time to eat after insulin too, tends to lower the level. To avoid such spikes maintaining a regular time is suggested.

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If you have been using insulin and exercising more than usual, or limiting the meal would affect a lot in individual. It may also occur if you take too much insulin in a day. The front and side part of the thighs, upper arm, and abdomen are recommended places to inject insulin.

Few times people tend to have side effects due to insulin but in very rare cases. If you are trapped in any situation and could not eat your meal at the specific time after insulin, juice, glucose tablets, hard candies, and non-diet sodas are also good for time being to save from hypoglycemia.

Conclusion

It will lead to complications to calculate the exact amount of dose during the mealtime initially. Even without any prior knowledge, if you have injected the insulin too deep, it enters into muscle, and the rate of absorption tends to rise. In this case, the insulin will not last for long.

Always keep a record of your blood sugar level and try to inject the insulin very safely by using the right techniques to get more effective results. Respective doctors should be consulted immediately, in case of side effects or in any complications where you may be advised to change the type of insulin or recommend other treatment.

References

  1. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/article-abstract/623394
  2. https://dom-pubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1046/j.1463-1326.2003.00283.x