Lifestyle-induced weight loss is regarded as an efficient therapy to reverse metabolic syndrome (MetS) and to prevent disease progression. The objective of this study was to investigate whether lifestyle-induced weight loss modulates gene expression in circulating monocytes. We analyzed and compared gene expression in monocytes (CD14+ cells) and subcutaneous adipose tissue biopsies by unbiased mRNA profiling. Samples were obtained before and after diet-induced weight loss in well-defined male individuals in a prospective controlled clinical trial (ICTRP Trial Number: U1111-1158-3672). The BMI declined significantly (− 12.6%) in the treatment arm (N = 39) during the 6-month weight loss intervention. This was associated with a significant reduction in hsCRP (− 45.84%) and circulating CD14+ cells (− 21.0%). Four genes were differentially expressed (DEG’s) in CD14+ cells following weight loss (ZRANB1, RNF25, RB1CC1 and KMT2C). Comparative analyses of paired CD14+ monocytes and subcutaneous adipose tissue samples before and after weight loss did not identify common genes differentially regulated in both sample types. Lifestyle-induced weight loss is associated with specific changes in gene expression in circulating CD14+ monocytes, which may affect ubiquitination, histone methylation and autophagy.