Although weight loss can usually be achieved by restricting food intake, the majority of dieters regain weight over the long-term. In the hypothalamus, hormonal signals from the gastrointestinal tract, adipose tissue and other peripheral sites are integrated to influence appetite and energy expenditure. Diet-induced weight loss is accompanied by several physiological changes which encourage weight regain, including alterations in energy expenditure, substrate metabolism and hormone pathways involved in appetite regulation, many of which persist beyond the initial weight loss period. Safe effective long-term strategies to overcome these physiological changes are needed to help facilitate maintenance of weight loss. The present review, which focuses on data from human studies, begins with an outline of body weight regulation to provide the context for the subsequent discussion of short- and long-term physiological changes which accompany diet-induced weight loss.