The gastrointestinal tract is the key interface between the ingesta and the human body. There is wide recognition that the gastrointestinal response to nutrients or bioactive compounds, particularly the secretion of numerous hormones, is critical to the regulation of appetite, body weight and blood glucose. This concept has led to an increasing focus on "gut-based" strategies for the management of metabolic disorders, including type 2 diabetes and obesity. Understanding the underlying mechanisms and downstream effects of nutrient-gut interactions is fundamental to effective translation of this knowledge to clinical practice. To this end, an array of research tools and platforms have been developed to better understand the mechanisms of gut hormone secretion from enteroendocrine cells. This review discusses the evolution of in vitro and in vivo models and the integration of innovative techniques that will ultimately enable the development of novel therapies for metabolic diseases.