The aims of this study were to investigate whether the inhibitory effect of Leucine (Leu) on starvation-induced protein degradation was mediated by its metabolite β-hydroxy-β-methyl butyrate (HMB), and to explore the mechanisms involved. The results showed that the beneficial effects of Leu on protein degradation and the oxygen consumption rate (OCR) of cells were observed at low levels (0.5 mM) rather than at high levels (10 mM). However, these effects were inferior to those of HMB. Moreover, HMB was able to increase/decrease the proportion of MyHC I/MyHC IIb protein expression, respectively. In these KICD-transfected cells, Leu was approximately as effective as HMB in inhibiting protein degradation and increasing the OCR as well as MyHC I protein expression of cells, and these effects of Leu were reverted to a normal state by mesotrione, a specific suppressor of KICD. In conclusion, HMB seems to be an active metabolite of Leu to suppress muscle protein degradation in a starvation model, and the mechanisms may be associated with improved mitochondrial oxidative capacity in muscle cells.