The Scientist: Kristin Kirkpatrick, R.D., YouBeauty Nutrition ExpertThe Answer: Most nutritionists recommend finishing your dinner (and dessert) at least two to three hours before going to bed. The main reason is to give your body time to fully digest your food, so you don’t get an upset stomach. It’s really not going to mess with your metabolism or make you gain weight if you eat later than that—at least not for the reason you might think.First things first: Some good advice. People who are prone to acid reflux or general indigestion should definitely avoid lying down too soon after eating, especially if dinner was full of spicy or acidic foods, as that can push gastric juice up from the stomach into the esophagus. Similarly, you want to cut yourself off from liquids before bedtime, as a full bladder can disrupt your sleep and wake you up in the middle of the night to pee. This goes double for alcoholic drinks, which may help you fall asleep, but diminish sleep quality, wake you up and dehydrate you all at once.Now, when it comes to counting up the metabolic results of a late dinner, the basic calculus applies: calories in minus calories out. It doesn’t matter when you consume your calories; if you take in more than you burn in a day, the remainder is going to get stored as fat. So, no, eating then lounging isn’t going to make you store more. Nighttime bingeing could make you pack on pounds, however, if you’re eating out of boredom or habit rather than because you’re hungry. But, of course, eating when you’re not hungry isn’t a good idea at any time of day. If you’re truly hankering for a midnight snack, opt for foods that are good for sleep, like cherries, which contain sleepiness-inducing melatonin, or string cheese, with calming tryptophan.QUIZ: Are Your Eating Habits Healthy?